Anyone who has read one of David Niven’s novels knows that he has a facility for turning seminal American history into fascinating historical fiction. This is especially true of Meriwether. The life of Meriwether Lewis, famed commander, who along with his friend, William Clark, lead a brave group of men to the Pacific Ocean, across uncharted frontier, is certainly intriguing material.
From his early childhood, Lewis was a devoted naturalist. He spent much of his youth traipsing around the wilderness, studying the plants, animals and people he encountered. When he was befriended by Thomas Jefferson as a young teen, the course of his life took on new focus, and the seeds of a dream were planted. The problem with realizing dreams is that, afterward, there is often nothing left for the dreamer to aspire to.
Niven succeeds in making this novel more than just a rehash of the journals of Lewis and Clark. He incorporates the social and political issues of the era into the story as well, which adds immeasurably to the reader’s appreciation of events.