Amy Bennett Williams, Fort Myers News-Press
“Though the book contains all the names and events familiar to those with even scant knowledge of local history (Billy Bowlegs, Thomas Edison, Tootie McGregor) it adds new depth and dimension to those characters, as well as introducing others whose names are far less common.
Williams is adept at cutting back and forth between small (but often crucial) moments and the big picture. Her imagined conversations between key figures have the ring of truth, as do her analyses of their consequences.”
Denege Patterson, Historian and Author–Edisonia Native Girl: Life Story of Florence Keen Sansom, Artist Born on the Edison Estate, Fort Myers, Florida; A Tour of the Islands of Pine Island Sound, Florida: Their Geology, Archaeology and History:
“[Williams’] intimate tone allows history to unfold in such a way that it can be voraciously devoured.
She writes with wit and irony, and she demonstrates an uncanny ability to find lustrous and relevant quotes from every era. Connections are made that are not found in previous histories. She deftly assembles wider and wider circles of authentic characters with boisterous commentaries of their own and then she ties them back into her central narrative with purpose. It’s all fact.
This brilliant romp shows us how the dearly departed can still be interesting. People whose last names are known only from street signs of Fort Myers are truly strategic thinkers, doers, movers, and shakers propelling the advance. They are devoid of cliché. She acquaints us with people whose antics freshen the story as they express their vision, opinion, and attitude about the predicaments they have gotten themselves into.
The veil of time and academia might dull portraits of historical figures, but not in this book. These personalities are premier actors in big-screen technicolor. The book is comprehensive without being long; evocative without being manipulative; colorful without being gaudy. The account is moving, and its truth rings true.”
Jim Powell, Research Historian, Southwest Florida Museum of History:
“Ms. Williams has achieved what many past Fort Myers history writers have missed. Her work is the product of verifiable research and avoids the “hand-me-down” episodes. The book is chronologically presented by topic with accurate and entertaining anecdotal inclusions. My favorite aspect of Ms. William’s style is her candid literary bravery. She avoids the most often factually inaccurate but polite, “sugar coating” of topics by adding vinegar when the real story demands!”
John Sheppard, Retired Fort Myers attorney, civic leader, grandson of the pioneering Woolslair-Sheppard family
“Ms. Williams gives faces to the people and life to the places of old Fort Myers that most folks know only as distant names, weaving their stories accurately into an enjoyable and readable history of the times. I hope there will be more stories to come.”
Andrew Elias interview in the September/October 2018 edition of Fort Myers Magazine.
Hello, SWFL! video interview.
News-Press review of August 27, 2017
Susan Russo Anderson, author of the Serafina Florio mystery series, says, “At the heart of BANYAN is poetic meaning incapable of distillation.”
“…a beautifully written novel. I was unable to put this one down. Her characters were mesmerizing.”
“Drenched in atmosphere…spellbinding…”
BANYAN is an illusively haunting tale…a real page turner, an excellent, gripping and hypnotic story leaving the reader thirsting for her next novel.”
“Absolutely brilliant! This is truly one of the best short novels I have ever read.”
And again, from Susan Russo Anderson, “Sometimes the line between poetry and prose is thin. In the case of BANYAN, a novella by Cynthia A. Williams, it is gossamer.”