Dallas Heritage Village presents Author Myra Hargrave McIlvain, speaking about her historical fiction novel Stein House, for the fifth annual Nancy Farina Lecture Series, a FREE event, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m. (reception); 7 p.m. (presentation), honoring the late Farina, a 20-year employee of Dallas Heritage Village. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A and book signing, in Browder Springs Hall, at Dallas Heritage Village, 1515 S. Harwood, 75215. Admission is free.
The Stein House reveals the history of a real Texas town through the lives of fictional characters. German immigrants are thrust into the bustling nineteenth century Texas seaport of Indianola, a lively town in 1853 that sat on Matagorda Bay, 40 miles from Victoria. German and other European settlers came in droves, and the town grew into a thriving seaport. Unfortunately, two hurricanes almost exactly 10 years apart and a fire wiped the once-prosperous town off the map. McIlvain’s novel follows the life of Helga Heinrich and her four children as they arrive from Germany and make a new life for themselves. Helga, recently widowed, seeks the help of her sister’s husband to operate his boarding house and provide for her children. Through her family’s point of view, readers learn about the diverse people who came through the boarding house and the community that served as the primary entry port for immigrants. The story highlights the cruelties of yellow fever and slavery, the wrenching choices of Civil War and Reconstruction, murder, alcoholism and the devastation wrought by the hurricane of 1886.
“I am looking forward to speaking at Dallas Heritage Village and sharing “Stein House,” in which fictional characters come alive within the history of a real Texas town,” said McIlvain. “Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres!”
McIlvain has been sharing her Texas tales for many years as a lecturer at The University of Texas OLLI Continuing Education Program and as a freelance writer for various newspapers and magazines such as “Texas Highways.” Her books have won several awards. “Stein House” was selected the winner of the 2014 General Fiction Award by the Texas Association of Authors; received a Kirkus Star Review in 2014; was one of four Indie books selected for the Kirkus Indie Book of the Month in the 9/15 Kirkus Reviews magazine; was named one of Kirkus Best of 2014; Best Adult Fiction, North Texas Book Festival in 2015; and a 2015 finalist for the Historical Fiction International Book Awards.
“We are so excited to welcome Ms. McIlvain to Dallas,” added Melissa Prycer, president and executive director, Dallas Heritage Village. “Little did we know at the time we invited McIlvain to Dallas Heritage Village, we would be experiencing so many hurricanes this year. We can certainly relate to the tragedy experienced by the characters in her novel, devastated by two hurricanes 10 years apart. We encourage the community to join us for this very special evening.”
The Nancy Farina Lecture Series honors Farina, who was a 20-year employee of Dallas Heritage Village. She served as vice president for development and capital giving for much of her tenure, which ended with her death in 2012.
McIlvain lives in Austin with her husband Stroud. Her children are grown, and she enjoys the company of a houseful of grands.
Light refreshments and beverages will be served the event, which is free and open to the public. Copies of McIlvain’s books will be for sale after the talk. For more information, visit www.dallasheritagevillage.org.