As always, Ellis impresses with his knowledge of his subjects and their times, and I liked his emphasis on John and Abigail's personal relationship, iAs always, Ellis impresses with his knowledge of his subjects and their times, and I liked his emphasis on John and Abigail's personal relationship, interwoven with their enormous influence (and not just John's) on the birth of the United States as a nation. With that said, I thought he was a little unbalanced on John's side (he seems to blame Abigail more than John for the signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts), and I would have liked to have seen more about their children, especially Charles and Thomas. Still, it's a worthy addition to Ellis's impressive repertoire....more
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 WilThis 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 women in my family. Each book focuses on one or two main romances, with other strands of story weaving through them.
Thane has two remarkable gifts which keep the books compelling through every read. The first is the ability to portray the events, characters, and atmosphere of the historical periods she's writing about convincingly and memorably. Thane spent many years doing research in the United States and in England, and she's able to translate her research into a richly detailed historical background.
Against this background is set Thane's other gift: her characters. You might think that in a series of seven books about the same family, the characters would tend to blend into each other, but that's not the case; every one of them is an individual personality. The nicest effect of this is that as the books get closer together in time (Ever After through Homing only covers slightly over forty years), many characters feature throughout the books, and you get to see how their personalities and relationships develop over time and how the romances central to previous books worked out.
Rereading the Williamsburg books is like revisiting old, loved friends; I can remember meeting them for the first time, but it's even nicer to revisit them....more
It's August, 1793, and another hot summer in Philadelphia for Mattie Cook, who lives with her mother and grandfather and works at the family coffee shIt's August, 1793, and another hot summer in Philadelphia for Mattie Cook, who lives with her mother and grandfather and works at the family coffee shop, making plans for expanding the shop and trying not to clash with her mother. Soon, though, Mattie's problems become more serious, when fever breaks out and she must learn how to survive in a city gone mad. I thought Anderson did an excellent job with the historical details, which are well integrated and not overdone, but I wasn't as invested in the characters as in Anderson's other books; there's some emotional distance which kept me from caring quite as much as I wanted to. Still, this is a fine historical novel and well worth reading. ...more