Pam’s comment yesterday made me think about trying to sort through the many ways historical fiction weaves historical personages together with fictional ones. So I started to take some notes on the subject, and as a part of that I first looked up Margaret Lawrence’s novels about a midwife in late 18th century Maine. The premise for her stories about Hannah Trevor is based loosely on the diary of Martha Ballard, the subject of one of my favorite historical studies of all time. The whole diary (searchable, with lots of useful tools) is online, and more than worth a visit if you’re interested in early American history.
I truly admire and often return to Hearts and Bones and the three novels that follow. The first three deal with Hannah while the last one focuses on her daughter Jennet. They are all out of print, I fear, but there’s the library. Never forget the library.[asa book]0385342373[/asa] Now here’s the great thing. When I went to look up the status of Hearts and Bones, I discovered that Margaret Lawrence has (1) a website, finally; and even better (2) a new novel out. Whooopeee! Roanoke is another historical mystery. I’ll let Ms Lawrence tell you about it herself:
The Lost Colony of Roanoke is one of the world’s great puzzles. After two earlier exploring voyages and the building of a fort, three English ships set sail for America in the spring of 1587, carrying a hundred and seventeen English settlers, along with a number of spies, a crew of pirates, and orders to find the gold and pearls belonging to the native tribes along what is now the coast of North Carolina. The war with Spain intervened and England had the Armada to worry about. By 1590, when a supply ship was finally sent out, the English colonists had all vanished, leaving only a few ruins and the name of a local island carved on a tree. (Read the whole description here.)
Five minutes after I found this, Roanoke was residing in the belly of my Kindle, where it now waits for me to finish Mr. Timothy. Five minutes after that, I had contacted a bookseller about a signed first edition. I have all her historical novels in hardcover, all signed. So you see, I haven’t given up on the traditional book, either.
I’ll be back with a review of this at some point in the not too distant future. Between now and the time I finish Roanoke, you might not be hearing much from me.