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Dawn's Early Light (Williamsburg, #1)
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Dawn's Early Light (Williamsburg #1)

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  624 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Colonial Williamsburg lives again in this rich story which is Elswyth Thane's first novel of American history in her bestselling series. Against a background of Williamsburg's quiet streets, the pomp and glitter of the Palace during the last days of British rule, and the excitement and triumph which swirled through the Raleigh Tavern, we see the people of Williamsburg whom...more
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published August 31st 2007 by Amereon House (first published 1934)
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Misfit
Julian Day arrives in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1774. His father died on the voyage, but Julian soon makes friends including the Sprague family who take him under their wing. JuliaN finds himself torn between his loyalty to King George and his new friends who want freedom from the crown at all costs. Julian takes the vacant position of schoolmaster and the story focuses on his relationships with the Spragues as well as the two urchins he takes under his wing - Kit (Christopher) and Tibby (Tabith...more
Kristina
I found this book accidentally, when I searched "Williamsburg" in my hometown library's database, before making my first (of many) trips there. I didn't get a chance to read it before I went, but read it a couple of weeks after I had gotten back. There was definitely something to it, not reading the book before I went. I think I would have been disappointed had I not found Colonial Williamsburg the same charming, laid-back yet self-confident town that Elswyth Thane had so eloquently portrayed (t...more
Margaret
This is the first in a series of seven historical novels called the Williamsburg Novels, which follow the families of the Days and the Spragues of Williamsburg, Virginia, through over 160 years, many generations, and several wars (from the American Revolution in Dawn's Early Light through the beginning years of World War II in This Was Tomorrow and Homing). I have read them so many times (starting when I was about seven years old) that I practically have them memorized, as have most of the other...more
Hana
Five stars for the history, two stars for the various 'romances'--for a weighted average of three and a half stars.

This would have been a much stronger book had Elswyth Thane chosen to simply tell the story of Julian Day, a young man who travels from London with his father who is taking up a post in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1774. When his father dies during the voyage, Day is bewildered--left without money or friends or purpose in this strange new land. Julian's story, his character arc, the t...more
Jan
This is my second time through the Williamsburg Saga. I love historical fiction, romances, and books set in locales that I am familiar with. This book satisfies all three. I enjoy hearing the politics of Revolutionary War America "first hand" and getting to know some of the prominent personalities a little better. (Ms. Thane, I hope you did your homework and didn't invent these things out of wholecloth!) I love Julian Day and Tibby and their story. I love this book.
Jackie
This is historical fiction, based on the revolutionary war. Some romance, too! It was great!
Gaile
This is what I call an easy reader. A slim volume with only 244 pages, it was a breeze to read! It is also chuck full of history! In the background of the stirrings of the American Revolution, Julian Day arrives from England. His father had applied for a teaching position in Williamsburg, Virginia but died on the voyage. To his surprise, Julian is given a splendid welcome, offered the position meant for his father and decides to stay a while.
He meets several women, the Mawes twins, one of whom i...more
Melee
Oh dear. I did so want to like this more.

Ms. Thane - I can, without second thought, accept a girl falling in love with a ghost - that's wonderful and perfectly unobjectionable! But an eleven year old girl falling in honest-to-goodness-love with a 21 year old man, on the other hand... Please, no. Actually, I found every aspect of Tibby's personality and actions unbelievable.

I'm going to keep reading this series, though; I'm a sucker for a good family saga and maybe I'll like the next installment...more
Lauralyn
I know hardly anyone outside my own family who has read these books, but I love them. I think I learned more history from these than from any history class I have ever taken. As I learn more history, things tie in to what I've learned from these books so that I remember better. Some things are definitely dated, such as the anti-German sentiments, but that makes interesting history of its own since those views were popular at the time the books were written. I own the whole series and reread it e...more
Michele
I love Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg series. Since this is the first & sets up the families that intertwine & appear in the subsequent ones it deserves five stars, even though it's not my personal favorite. I prefer less war, more history. Still, we wouldn't have the others without the original, so here's to the Spragues & the Days.
Barbara
My little 80 year old friend at church loaned me this book, because she heard me say that I really love historical fiction. This one is #1 in this author's series called "The Williamsburg Novels", and was written in 1942. As you can see by my rating, I loved it.
Pam
I very much enjoyed this book. It was very well written and researched and she does a fabulous job recreating the ideals and attitudes of Williamsburg during the Revolutionary War. Some of the storylines were too pat for me, but it was an overall very lovely read.
Emma
I loved this book .The first in THE WILLIAMSBURG NOVELS starting from Colonial America to World War II. Tibby is one of my favorite characters of all time. I plan on reading all some day ( on my book shelf). OH THE TIME..............
Shaina
This is a beautifully written historical fiction about the Revolutionary war. I have never read such a heartfelt account from the eyes of regular people. It is very well researched and delicately delivered. The romance threads are gently woven throughout--never mushy, long, or sappy, always sweet and heartwarming. A single glance or a simple long-awaited letter are always more powerful than the most passionate kissing scene if you ask me, and dear ole Elswyth rocks the subtle slow-grown love. It...more
Sara
This is light historical/romance fiction, but with a bit more "heft" to it, not just fluff. This first book in the series takes place during the Revolutionary era of colonial America. Thane has incorporated plenty of historical figures, events, and settings--all fairly seamlessly--into the story line. Despite (or because of?) struggles and some poor choices in her personal life, Thane seemed able to pour a lot of energy and heart into her writing. Enjoyable cozy reading with some historical valu...more
Emmy
What a good book! It's been a while since I've read an older book like this and I think I had been missing this style of writing, where the merit is based on the writing as much as the story (these days I've been focusing solely on the story).

The book is packed with history. At times it did feel like info-dumping and I didn't always need to know the movements of every troop throughout the entire war, but you can't deny that Thane did her research. It can read heavy (at times) with all of that in...more
Beverly Gray
Elswyth Thane is an old "friend" and I have enjoyed her books from my teens when my Mother introduced her to me. DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT is the first book in her Williamsburg, VA series (seven books in total). This one brings to life the Revolutionary War. It should suit the tastes of those who enjoy historical fiction and family saga. Her works tend a bit to the feminine although I would not class the books as historical romance. Her research is impecable and her characters vivid and appealing.

DAWN'...more
Emily
I loved this book. I picked it up at a library sale not knowing the author. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a fascinating look into the Revolutionary War era.
The story centers around a newly arrived young man, Julian Day, from England, suddenly left on his own by the death of his father on the journey overseas. He is immediately taken in with all kindness by St. John Sprague and his aunt who become a second family to him. The whole community is welcoming and...more
Maria M. Elmvang
A 2.5 star review.

It has taken me ridiculously long time to finish this book, and I do feel bad about giving it such a low rating, but considering how long I've been reading it, I can't in good conscience claim that it was any better than ok.

The book is split up into three parts. The first part where Julian arrives to the USA and get settles I really liked. That part was a breeze to get through. I loved reading about his friendship with St. John and his job as a teacher - not to mention Kit and...more
Mallory
The Revolutionary War is one of the most fascinating time periods in history for me. This novel brings Williamsburg to life during that turbulent time and peoples it with characters both real and imagined. We get to see this land through the eyes of Julian Day, an Englishman just off the ship who has come to teach school. He is immediately overwhelmed by the beauty and vitality of Virginia, a place he had supposed to still be backwoods wilderness. He is also astonished by the talk he hears again...more
Jennifer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna Sims
Saving this book as a reference for how to write a good romance. Thane writes beautifully realized relationships without without veering into overt sentimentality. Not sure how I feel about the May December romance, but the book is from the 1940s, so… maybe that makes it better?

Anyways, gorgeous story set during the Revolutionary War that's got plenty of military maneuvering too.
Audrey L
I was lucky enough to have a Grandmother who owned all of the books in this series. You'll be lucky if you can get your hands on them. You'll fall in love with the characters and learn a lot about the history of our nation at the same time. (This series has seven historical novels called the Williamsburg Novels.)
Phyllis
I reread this book recently, because I remember loving it when I read it years ago. I still liked the characters, but found the author's flowery style a bit off putting this time around. However, because I am in desperate need of comfort reads, I have decided to reread all of the Williamsburg novels.
Margaret
12/2012 ** I first read this book more than 30 years ago when I was in middle or high school. It's historical fiction about a family living in Colonial Williamsburg in the decade before and during the American Revolution. To make the series more interesting, its copyright is 1943, so has an interesting perspective.

As an adult, I'm picking up the cultural stereotypes and racism (Virginia, the happy slave, etc.) that I was too naive to perceive as a teen. However, in this reading, I also caught so...more
Barbara
This series of historical novels is one of the best I have read. There is great character development, as well as interesting perspective on the historical events, keeping the reader in a position of wanting to know more of how life impacted the families involved. This is a wonderful series that takes you willingly through history on a journey you won't want to leave. I suggest you read them all!
Anna Dalton
I almost put this down after the first few pages, and I'm so glad I didn't. Because of the time period in which it takes place and the different countries represented in the book, there were some terms and languages that I am not familiar with. At times that made it hard to understand everything that was happening, which is why I almost gave up on this book at first. It was also difficult to keep all of the military characters straight. But I still gave the book 5 stars, because I got drawn in r...more
Debra
The beginning of my engagement with historical fiction. I read this in junior high school and all the the subsequent Williamsburg novels that Thane wrote. These may seem dated now, but I've always enjoyed them, having read the first couple of books many times over the years.

The first time I visited Williamsburg, VA I had some notion of where things were located due to my reading of Thane's books, and found that they were displayed in the local bookstore when I visited in the 1980s. Wonder if the...more
Cara
Aug 05, 2014 Cara is currently reading it
Aug 5, 2014: I like it so far, HOWEVER - I ordered reprinted paperback edition that is rife with unprofessional spelling and text errors. You can make out the words based on context, but it's pretty distracting.
I believe the publisher scanned the original edition into Adobe Acrobat Pro in order to format the text; when this program does not recognize a word based on the printed text, it will "guess"
what it is supposed to say. This has resulted in "Julian" appearing as "Ju Han," "Jullan," etc, am...more
Nicole
I thought Thane captured the spirit of the American Revolution so beautifully. It was nice to see it from a common perspective rather than one of the founding fathers, which I also enjoy. There were some jarring bits of racism (this was written in the 1930s when it would have been normal to talk that way) and the love triangles/misunderstandings could be Three's Company. Also the age difference in one of the love stories was pretty gross at first (a girl of 10 and a man of 19 - he was unaware sh...more
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Thane is most famous for her "Williamsburg" series of historical fiction. The books cover several generations of a single family from the American Revolutionary War up to World War II. The action moves from Williamsburg in later books to England, New York City and Richmond, Virginia.
More about Elswyth Thane...
Yankee Stranger (Williamsburg, #2) Ever After (Williamsburg, #3) Tryst Kissing Kin (Williamsburg, #5) The Light Heart (Williamsburg, #4)

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