Jamestown Woman

Written by Sue Allan
Review by Rachel A Hyde

About a year ago I read and enjoyed Mayflower Maid, which told the story of an obscure servant woman’s adventures on the ship and in the New World. Now here is the sequel, and as middle books of trilogies so often tread water I wondered if the high standard would be there. I need not have worried because this is another excellent book, dealing with Bessie’s reunion with her true husband Thomas, their stay in Jamestown and subsequent adventures back in England during the Civil War.

This is another book that manages expertly to get under the skin of 17th century people, what drove them, their everyday lives, mores and concerns. There are probably fewer novels published about this century than any other in the last half millennium, so this is another treat. Even more so are the almost tangible descriptions of the places in the story, and the very real-seeming characters that populate them. No modern folk in historical dress here; this is history without the varnish and idealization, without too much dwelling on dirt and despair. I felt that I had read a long story although this is just a short book, and look forward to the final part with relish. Real historical fiction!