The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare

Written by Kimberly Brock
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

In this novel, author Kimberly Brock weaves a multigenerational story based on the supposed descendants of the real-life Eleanor Dare. Dare was the daughter of John White, colonial governor of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island at the end of the 1580s (in the present-day Outer Banks of North Carolina). History recorded only that Eleanor Dare gave birth to the first English child born in the colonies, Virginia Dare. Sometime later, all Roanoke colonists vanished, including Eleanor and Virginia.

The main narrator is Alice Young, a 15th-generation descendant of Eleanor. Alice’s daughter Pennilyn is about to turn thirteen and inherit the Dare legacy. However, the gift, which promises visions, contains untold stories of tragedies and betrayals. The story is set at the end of WWII, and Alice’s young husband has been killed overseas. Raising her daughter now alone, Alice decides to bring Penn back to Evertell, the family’s abandoned estate outside of Savannah, Georgia. Alice wants Penn to see her birthright, and Alice needs to confront old fears from her childhood. She also wants to retrieve Eleanor Dare’s Commonplace Book, which has been handed down through the generations and stowed away on the Evertell property.

The author paces the plot well with vivid details that made me feel that I, too, was wandering the estate at Evertell. And I appreciated that the story was well researched as I read the pages from Eleanor Dare’s viewpoint as she flees from Roanoke Island to points unknown. The characters are unique and carry their own human flaws that make them come alive and feel believable. I rooted for each of them as they strove to find their place in a complicated family history. My only wish is for a map showing Eleanor’s trek. Highly recommended.