A Roll of the Bones

Written by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole
Review by Janice Derr

Orphaned as a child, Nancy spent most of her life as a servant in the Gale household. Close in age to the family’s oldest daughter Kathryn, she’s grown up with her mistress, and the two young women become inseparable. When Kathryn marries, she doesn’t think twice about asking Nancy to join her new household. A short time later, Kathryn’s husband decides to leave Bristol to live in the newly established colony in Cupids, Newfoundland. Kathryn reluctantly agrees to join him, and Nancy feels her only choice is to go with her best friend.

Recently established, the small colony is inhabited solely by men. Nancy and Kathryn’s incoming ship brings supplies and sixteen women to assist in the efforts to build a new community. The women find the living conditions inadequate and the work endless. The colony is plagued by harsh weather conditions, the threat of pirates, and uneasy interactions with the island’s native inhabitants. Nancy is no stranger to hard work and knows her new life will be a challenge but isn’t prepared for the constant pressure to marry. She receives multiple marriage proposals, including one from Ned, a stonemason who was once in love with Kathryn. She vows never to marry but quickly discovers that staying true to herself has significant consequences.

Some heavily researched novels can get bogged down with historical details and descriptions, but not this one. Morgan-Cole manages to strike the perfect balance by including enough descriptions of day-to-day life in early 17th-century Newfoundland to fully immerse the reader and adding in fast-paced action to keep the story moving. I was so absorbed with the tale; I couldn’t believe it when I got to the last page. Fortunately, this is book one of a trilogy, and readers can look forward to more installments of the colonists’ adventures.