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

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  539 ratings  ·  70 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 January 1st 1983 by Amereon Ltd (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
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
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.
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
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
Cherry
Mar 24, 2008 Cherry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cherry by: Marci Chapman
Eswth Thane was an AMAZING writer, I plan on reading all of her books before I am dead or blind, well even if I am blind I will listen to them but hopefully before I die I will have read all of them. I loved this book and loved it so much I shared it with my sister Natalie who also loved it and then I was fortunate enough that a friend of mine (Marci of course) found all of her books on e-bay and since my Mother is such a fan of Eswth Thane was able to give them to her as a birthday gift. I high...more
Rachel
A slow start, but the historical backdrop had a nice way of connecting all of those Revolutionary names and places (though it would be interesting to know how much literary license was claimed for a few historical personalities). Some grisly war scenes, which are to be expected for an American Revolution story, though not overly graphic, but I was disconcerted by quite a lot of language. I did enjoy the main story line and Tibby was terrific but some of the romantic sidelights were a bit clunky,...more
Meg
What a sweet little book! It is about a man who comes to Williamsburg right at the brink of the Revolutionary War. He does not intend to stay, but becomes entranced with the spirit of America and her people. I loved most of the book, but got a little bored with the battle scenes, because that's what I do.

* My library's edition of this book was from the 1940's and I loved looking at the checkout's from the 40's, 50's, 60's...How cool to read a book that so many others before have held and read....more
Caterina
Aug 09, 2012 Caterina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Revolutionary War buffs
Satisfying for what it is -- a historical novel of Williamsburg, the beginning of a family saga -- but I would have liked to see more of Tibby and Julian's story. Aside from the part where he essentially raised himself a wife, I found them sweet. I was a bit of a Tibby, once! So I'd have appreciated that transition into their adult lives, just a hundred more pages to get a feel for how that turned out, since this was their story.

I nitpick because I love the two of them. Like I said, for what it...more
Terry Stanton
I read this when I was 16. It opened my eyes to so many things; the fun of reading engaging historical fiction, the joy of well developed characters, the sense of being transported to a different, albeit slightly sanitized, time and place, and the thrill of discovering that there are more in the series. The book was written before the civil rights movement and I do have some problems with the depiction of slavery in the next book in the series, but this one, at least in the eyes of the 16year ol...more
Tish
Set in the American Colonies in the several years leading up to independence. I read about this book here. Many commented that they had read it during their teens and loved it. I enjoyed it, but wish I'd read it in my teens when it would have had less competition for favored status. My favorite parts were the bits with Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox) and the language. The writing reminded me of one of my own childhood favorites, Daughter of the Land, by Gene Stratton Porter.
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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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