Genesee

Written by Juliet Waldron
Review by Mary L. Newton

Genesee van Cortlandt, the child of a runaway teen and an Iroquois warrior, was abducted back into “civilization” by her white uncle as an infant. In the frontier of 1770s New York, her mixed heritage didn’t seem to be a handicap, but when thrust into Albany society at 15, she felt many constraints–some due to her heritage, others to the change from country to city living. Young Captain Alexander Dunbar of the Army of Independence is attracted to Genesee at first sight. Raised in the West Indies and sent to King’s College, New York, by his employer, he is a friend of Genesee’s cousin. Genesee has no large dowry and Alexander has no inheritance. Despite their “unsuitability” as marriage partners, they find themselves growing closer. But Genesee is destined to learn more about her birth father’s family, and Alexander’s love will be tested to the utmost.

Waldron has evidently researched her subject. She describes details of costume, contrasts between city and country life in 1770s New York, and relations between Indian tribes and settlers. In fact, the friendly and peaceful relationships cultivated by some settlers and tribes were surprising. Waldron also discusses Indian customs and beliefs respectfully, without minimizing the cruelty of their war practices. Overall, she presents an evenhanded picture. I would have liked to see an author’s note or bibliography.