More than forty years after leaving her native New Orleans as a young woman, Leta Weiss Marks awakened to the realization that her family history there was almost beyond the horizon of living memory. Rescuing it, for herself and posterity, became her mission and brought her home again. In a compelling, elegant blend of fact and fiction, Marks weaves a tapestry of family members and events, drawing mainly upon interviews with her nonagenarian mother and aunt. Letters, archival research, and Marks’s own recollections and imagination also contribute to the composition, which she calls “a song of myself and my family.”
At the center are Marks’s mother and father, and the highs and lows of their courtship and marriage. Caroline Dreyfous was born into a prominent Jewish family of New Orleans; Leon Weiss, seventeen years her senior, always struggled to gain their acceptance. He was an ambitious, talented architect, the driving force in the famous firm of Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth, chosen by Huey Long to design the new state capitol and governor’s mansion, New Orleans’ Charity Hospital, and other landmarks. He also was implicated in the “Louisiana Scandals” and sentenced to two years in federal prison. Time’s Tapestry is in part Marks’s attempt to peel back her mother’s reticent yet unwavering loyalty toward her father and understand this man, who died when Marks was only twenty-one and preparing to move to Connecticut.
Stories and memories of three generations of the Dreyfous branch of the family tree complete Marks’s portrait. She makes vivid not only the personalities of her kin but also the times in which they lived, conjuring the New Orleans of her great-grandfather, grandparents, parents, and own childhood―segregation, the alternate inclusion and exclusion of the Jewish community, the fervid politics of the Long era―and juxtaposing those scenes with her experiences as an adult returning to visit her family in a greatly changed city.
Charming and evocative, a superb example of creative nonfiction―Time’s Tapestry makes for both an intimate family album and a priceless record of New Orleans’ cultural, social, and political history.
by Leta Weiss Marks (Author)
Hardcover, 176 Pages