Book Nook: The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters: A True Story of Family Fiction by Julie Klam
Vick Mickunas' 2021 interview with Julie Klam
Julie Klam is one of my favorite guests. I had been waiting eagerly for
this book to come out so I could review it and interview her again.
Here's my review which appeared in the Cox Ohio newspapers:
Julie Klam's first book, "Please Excuse My Daughter," established her as one of our leading humorists. In that memoir she described the close bond she has had with her mother and the amusing dynamics of her family. After she wrote that book she considered writing another one about some of her other relatives but she ended up putting off that project.
Her next book was another memoir; "You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secret of Happiness." In this reviewer's opinion "Woof" is the finest book to be written about the relationships between humans and dogs. Julie's first dog, a Boston terrier named Otto (of blessed memory), absconds with our hearts through the magic of Julie's wry, tender prose.
Klam has finally published that other book about her family. "The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters - a True Story of Family Fiction" is the tale of four women who Klam considered to be her great-aunts, although they were really her dad's mother's first cousins, technically first cousins twice removed.
Klam was intrigued by these mysterious relatives. The Morris sisters,
Selma, Malvina, Marcella, and Ruth, were all born between 1893 and 1904. The three oldest sisters were born in Romania. The youngest sister, Ruth, was born in St. Louis after the family immigrated here.
Perhaps you are wondering, what was almost legendary about them? Well, Klam had heard outlandish stories about them, Marcella in particular, so she set out to try to determine what was really true. It wasn't easy, they had been rather secretive, elusive women.
She recalled encounters with them. Selma was a non-stop talker and a chain smoker. Marcella was their financial genius, another chain-smoker, and somewhat abrasive. Malvina was the third chain-smoking sister, she had a physical disability and was known as the kindest one.
The three older sisters never married. Ruth, the youngest, had a brief
wartime marriage, only a few months long. She also had the shortest
life; Ruth died in her mid-seventies. The only sister who was not a
chain smoker, ironic, eh? For most of their lives the sisters resided
The author went to St. Louis to try to unearth facts about the sisters'
early lives. She wanted to know; what had become of their parents? Had their father really abandoned the four sisters and their brother so that he could head to Hollywood to make movies?
Had their mother died soon after the family arrived in Missouri? Klam was astonished by what she found out. She went to Romania to see where the family had originated. She wondered, what circumstances made them move away?
Klam researched whether Marcella had had an affair with a famous tycoon. Had Marcella's financial wizardry gotten her into a meeting to advise President Franklin D. Roosevelt? What became of the millions Marcella made trading stocks? The facts she uncovered about her eccentric relatives are amazing and somewhat bizarre.
The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library, Clark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.