The Wealth of Jamestown
by Barbara McLennan

Koehler Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1-938-46761-5.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 04/30/2014

Fiction: Historical

The Wealth of Jamestown covers the time between 1685 and 1700 using a romance between the plantation owner's daughter, Sarah, and the young sheriff, William, of Yorktown to illustrate an early history of Virginia. McLennan, who serves as a docent at the Jamestown Settlement, incorporates many historical characters using her extensive research to enliven a time most are barely aware of.

The first few chapters, with a plethora of characters and actions unfamiliar to modern life, feel dense and at times confusing. However, the reader is rewarded with a charming love story and a fascinating historical overview. One realizes that with the appalling loss of life through disease, birthing, dueling and skirmishes with Indians encouraged by the French, the survivors, both men and women, were strong and resourceful. Many plantations were overseen by the women in the families because of the death or temporary absence of the men. McLennan especially brings to life James Blair, villain, husband of Sarah and clergyman with political connections. The reader will dislike him as much as his contemporaries disliked his rigidity and single-mindedness. Although Jamestown was eventually deserted, many of the characters enmeshed within the story were the antecedents of the founders of the United States. The Wealth of Jamestown painlessly presents an early and difficult time in American history.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Barbara McLennan has published 5 books and numerous articles on various political, economic and historical subjects. She serves as docent at Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. She is a former professor and high level official in the US Dept of Commerce & Treasury. She lives in Williamsburg VA. Visit her website.

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