Ed Mestre's Reviews > Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony

Roanoke by Lee Miller
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Aug 25, 2011

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Read in July, 2011

I guess I was in junior high when I first read of the lost colony of Roanoke. The mystery immediately grabbed me. Little Virginia Dare, first English child born in the New World, left at this remote North Carolina settlement as her grandfather sailed to England to get help & supplies for the beleaguered colonists. But help was delayed not by months but years by a series of events that include the Spanish Armada. When the ship returned there was nothing & no one there. No settlement, no bodies, no signs of violence. Nothing but the single word "Croatoan" carefully carved on a post. Add to this reports years later of light skinned, fair eyed "Indians" & you've got one intense mystery. One that's lasted over 400 years.

Lee is a thorough researcher & has an interesting way of including primary sources by including them as part of her own sentences designated by the use of italics. But her writing style overall is rather scattered jumping around in time & space almost as if she were talking to you & suddenly says "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about this over there." She has some interesting theories & evidence, but a more direct narrative would have served her argument & definitely the reader better than this historical hop scotch. There's hints of this narrative style at the beginning & at the end teasing us as to what could have been. Her style also suffers from an almost melodramatic overconfidence of her theory bordering on arrogance. It's hard to criticize self-confidence, but there were way too many "Of course it had to be..." There can be no other conclusion except..." type statements.

Once again I'm probably being too generous with 3 stars, but she did a lot of homework, has a novel "solution" to this fascinating enigma.
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