Thursday, March 24, 2016

Roanoke: The Lost Colony by Angela Elwell Hunt

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: February 03, 2016

The enduring mystery of what happened to the first English colony in the New World... In 1587, a group of would-be colonists set sail from England and later landed on Roanoke Island, now part of North Carolina's Outer Banks. Their ship returned to England and the settlers were never heard from again. This is the story, based on legendary and historical information, of what might have happened to them. Jocelyn White, a newlywed married to Thomas Coleman, is reluctant to leave her home in England for the wild shores of the New World. The journey is fraught with danger, but her dependence on God and God's providence carry her safely through. 

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1585 map of the east coast of North America from the
Chesapeake Bay to Cape Lookout by John White
I knew the history of Roanoke prior to purchasing Angela Elwell Hunt’s Roanoke: The Lost Colony, but my interest in the novel didn’t begin with its subject matter. Truth be told, I stumbled over the book because I wanted to read one of its sequels. Unfortunately, the jacket description on Charles Town led me to believe the Keepers of the Ring series built on one another so rather than breaking sequence and jumping in at book five, I redirected my attention to book one. 

I’ll grant it’s not the most auspicious start, but I’ve opened books on a lot less so let’s not get caught up on the details. Roanoke: The Lost Colony actually has a few things going for it and while certain elements of novel left me wanting, there was enough going on to hold my interest and satisfy my famously particular tastes. 

Fair warning to all, the religious aspects of the novel are not subtle, but I felt Hunt’s themes blended well with the historic details of her fiction. I know I’m in the minority when I say this, but I enjoy this kind of balance and am always impressed with writers who take the time and care to create it. Hunt obviously put a lot into researching the colony, but she put equal thought into integrating her message of faith into the material and I truly appreciated how to two complement one another as the story progressed. 

I felt Jocelyn a likable heroine, and I appreciate much in both Audrey and Rowtag, but like many other reviewers, I struggled to appreciate Thomas. His views are rather extreme and while I’ve no problem with difficult characters, I felt his arc awkward and forced. I greatly enjoyed his entry and introduction, but his personality fractures and takes a seemingly unnatural tangent. In looking back at the book, I have to admit his character confused me and even now, I’m not entirely sure what Hunt was trying to accomplish with his role. 

I found the pacing tedious, but became addicted to the authenticity and harsh descriptions of Hunt’s narrative. Christian fiction is usually positive and upbeat, but Roanoke: The Lost Colony is decidedly bittersweet. Hunt allowed history to shape this story and while I recognize how disappointing that is for some readers, I personally respected the author more for her adherence to the historic record. 

As a family saga, I can’t say the Keepers of the Ring series has much on Jack Cavanaugh’s American Family Portrait, but I enjoyed the time I spent with piece and look forward to tackling additional installments in the near future.  

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“Let each family draw together tonight for prayer. Let each man fight on the morrow for his life. And let us be confident that in this, as in all things, God’s will must be done.”
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