Margaret Panofsky feels passionately about her debut novel, The Last Shade Tree. It shares her roots. She grew up surrounded by Northern California’s live oak trees and golden wild-oat grass, but abandoned what was left of that idyllic beauty to live in New York City. She is a musician who plays the viola da gamba and is founder and director of New York University’s The Teares of the Muses, a consort of viols. After years of playing Renaissance and Baroque music, she believes that her novel has a definite musical lilt.
She tells a story about extraordinary people intensely bound together on a journey to unknown places where even time is skewed. And since her mind runs naturally to myth and fantasy, that journey is labyrinthine and disaster filled. She intertwines episodes that resemble edgy folktales, balancing deadly serious and darkly comic writing as her characters see the worst humanity has to offer. “Letting my characters speak for me, I voice my dismay that people seem incapable of learning from past atrocities. But I didn’t want to preach, so I imagined a scenario that would be fun, romantic, and sometimes forlorn—angry, too. It’s an intimate tale enclosed in an epic adventure.”
“I’m sure this book has gleaned fragments from the inks of its existence and its author’s imagination and in turn has birthed a soul within its pages. It’s a rare thing!"
On Amazon, offered in Kindle and as a handsome large-format 6x9 paperback. You can "See Inside" for sample chapters.
Sequoyah hates his name, his orphaned childhood in a Cherokee boarding school, and just about everything else about himself. And he’s different, living on the edge of reality where clairvoyant thought is as natural as breathing. Soon he hits rock bottom, a victim of his own despair in an uncaring world. In this tale of self-discovery, he finds himself and his humanity while hovering between life and death.
Aleta, a beautiful violinist, Ethan, neurotic physics student, Luz, ROTC instructor, and Jaroslav and Anichka from the Slovakian Alps join Sequoyah to sweep across millennia, their journey as mythic as it is mundane. They stumble as often as they succeed, they fight, they hate one another, and then reconcile. They love as passionately as they hate, and children with supernatural gifts are born.
The fanatic Moon People, octogenarians orbiting ridiculously above the earth in a small satellite, manipulate Sequoyah and his clan into doing their bidding. They set a task as daunting as Moses and the Israelites parting the sea. Why? They’ve seen World War III and humankind’s fiery end.
Serious questions about war and racism lie beneath the surface of this thought-provoking, attention-grabbing novel set in the 1960s and beyond—part fantasy, part historical, part science fiction, but mainly a family epic and love story that unites three generations—written with humor, satire, sensuality, and pathos.
Who are these people—perceptive, bigger than life, but lost—as conflicted as you and me? They are wondering the same thing about themselves.
This book has to be one of the most original books I have ever read. It defies being labeled or pigeon-holed into any one genre. That is a good thing. Too often, plots follow a standard template according to genre. The Last Shade Tree does not. Time travel, magical realism, romance, it is all there. The characters are fully developed, three-dimensional people who sometimes act in heroic ways and sometimes act in not so heroic ways. I found myself loving them at times and becoming angry with them at other times and crying with them at times.
My favorite character is Sequoyah Morgan Hummingbird. Perhaps it's because I'm Cherokee myself. He reflects the pain of so many real Cherokee people...American Indian people, in general. He grows up in a boarding school, like millions of other Native children before him. He carries the legacy of the Trail of Tears in his soul. Ms. Panofsky, though not Cherokee herself, has done an excellent job capturing the Cherokee experience and correctly uses Cherokee words throughout the novel. She has clearly spent time with Cherokee people and has done her homework well.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, regardless of what your favorite genre is. There are lessons to be learned for everyone, I think.
“I’m sure this book has gleaned fragments from the inks of its existence and its author’s imagination and in turn has birthed a soul within its pages. It’s a rare thing! The Last Shade Tree is a difficult book to put down. It’s a monster of the most wonderful kind, it’s a colossus. It has such an elasticity of ingenuity, one wonders if the author herself has seen the future and so has written an opera for us to inhabit; è una delizia orchestrale.” — Martin Shone, author of the poetry collection After the Rain, other poems, and short stories.
“Wonderful book, filled with imaginative situations, beautiful writing and plenty of excitement!!” — Michael Beckerman, author of Dvorák and his World.
“Total page turner, couldn’t put it down! Read it at night and went to work exhausted every day until I finished it. And utterly unique.”
The Last Shade Tree was unlike any other novel I have read. I couldn’t put the book down because the characters were so intriguing and the events moved me as pieces of events from history were portrayed. The author intertwined the past, present, and future in a fascinating way. I had to pay careful attention as I read this book because some characters had more than one name.
“The Last Shade Tree, Panofsky’s tremendous first novel, takes readers on an enlightening journey across time and around the world alongside protagonist Sequoyah Morgan Hummingbird, a withdrawn yet emotionally and expressively gifted Cherokee man shaped by the heart-wrenching trauma of his early life. Sequoyah fights to come into his own despite both his hardships and the ever-present burden that he faces as a chosen specimen in the enigmatic Moon People’s dictatorial master plan. Sequoyah’s journey is influenced and guided by friends, family, enemies, lovers, and by his unique insight into the ominous future that awaits a dangerously heedless humanity.”
“The characters are wonderfully crafted, and you will fall in love with each of them and their peculiarities, especially with the beautiful Sequoyah. You will find yourself entangled in the story, which is like nothing you'll ever read. There is fantasy, sci-fi, time travel, romance, mystery and something deep and almost spiritual about it. A great read.”
“The only ecological time travel family saga romance I’ve ever read! And of course, my favorite genre, a page turner!”
“The Last Shade Tree is a remarkable read. Panofsky weaves what seem to be at first glance disparate themes and cultures into a comprehensive whole. The characters are real - they fall in love; they hurt each other; they struggle with the paths they have chosen; they love again. You can’t help but see and love the humanity in each one of them. The journeys they embark upon are captivating, frightening, and at times humorous. Though deep and difficult topics are brought to light, the story maintains a hopeful tone as the heroes, while sometimes reluctant, pull together for the betterment of all.”
“Like Dr. Who’s Tardis, this book is much bigger on the inside than from the outside. There's at least a three book series in here, on the order of Neil Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle or his longer standalone novels. As with Stephenson, there are lots of different (and distant) major themes all going on at once, a regular confluence of mythologies. With lots of other big and small pieces thrown is as appropriate.”
“The best thing I can say about this book is that there is really something for everyone; regardless of what genres of books you like to read, The Last Shade Tree satisfies curiosities and thirsts for such a wide range of concepts: Sci Fi, Time Travel, Romance, Drama, Mystery, and on and on. I was completely enthralled the moment I picked up the book and started reading. It was like an amazing journey that really connects the reader to all the characters; and each layer I peeled back became more and more interesting. I would love to read a sequel! Not just for entertainment; this book provides a well rounded experience. Highly recommended.”
“A wonderful mix of SciFi, human emotions, and extraordinary character portraits. History permeates the pre/post apocalyptic world. A wonder-filled read. Margaret ties diverse cultures and mores with characters who come alive on the page. The hope of a better future is prevalent.”
“I fell in love with the Cherokee Hero! I just finished reading Margaret Panofsky’s new book—The Last Shade Tree, that features a Cherokee Hero's adventures and personal struggles. It is fantasy, drama, romance and history, including the tragedy of the Trail of Tears. From the first moment I was hooked - as the story unfolded - I was captivated! It's definitely a page turner / great read!”
“I couldn’t put it down! This genre-defying novel is a must read for fantasy fans, a bit like a Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time for grownups. The tone shifts from romantic to darkly funny to poignant to mythological/spiritual, and the descriptive language is movingly poetic. The underlying message is about humanity: our equal power to nurture and to destroy ourselves, the people around us, and our planet. And to tie it all together, this is a really good story about a family with unique gifts trying to find a place to call home. A beautiful read.”
The Last Shade Tree is published by the superb All Things That Matter Press, a no fee, royalty paying, print-on-demand small press, providing expert editing and design. ATTMP “seeks to publish those books that help the author share their Self with the world.”
How to Buy
Purchase paperbound book or ebook from Amazon. With "See Inside" you can preview samples of my story. Please write a review!
Barnes and Noble also lists my book; click here.
Support independent booksellers by ordering Last Shade Tree through their IndieBound book-sales service.
Find your local Independent Bookstore and ask them to order copies to sell.
“Perfect reading for the end of the world – and comes in a large-format quality paper collector’s edition that will last forever.” —S.F.