Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review: Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein

Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (October 12, 2010)
Goodreads description:

Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens—until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Ralegh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Ralegh's colony of Roanoke, in the New World. Ralegh pledges to come for Cate, but as the months stretch out, Cate begins to doubt his promise and his love. Instead it is Manteo, a Croatoan Indian, whom the colonists—and Cate—increasingly turn to. Yet just as Cate's longings for England and Ralegh fade and she discovers a new love in Manteo, Ralegh will finally set sail for the New World.

Seamlessly weaving together fact with fiction, Lisa Klein's newest historical drama is an engrossing tale of adventure and forbidden love—kindled by one of the most famous mysteries in American history: the fate of the settlers at Roanoke, who disappeared without a trace forty years before the Pilgrims would set foot in Plymouth.

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I was born and raised in Virginia and in school we focused A LOT on Virginia history. Being so close to many historical sites we were able to go on a lot of field trips to Jamestown and Yorktown where we learned a lot about how colonists lived. The most interesting subject for me though was the lost colonists. It is a true mystery with lots of speculation about what may have happened...the perfect subject for a book. I was very excited to read this story since the subject is something I have had interest in since elementary school. I was not disappointed at all.

The story is told from 3 different points of view: Cate, Walter Ralegh, and Manteo. I liked that it was told this way because it let me get to know each character better and know what their motivations are. I didn't find the beginning of the book (set in England) that interesting, but that is mostly because it is about court life (which kind of makes me sick). Everyone has to act like loyal dogs to the Queen, who controls just about every aspect of her courtiers lives. The most ridiculous things can be construed as traitorous and can get a person thrown in the tower or hanged. There was definitely a lot of paranoia and ego. Speaking of ego, Walter Ralegh was full of it. A very self important, greedy, vain, and selfish man is what he was. How anyone could fall in love with him is beyond me but then again, expectations were not high back then. He was famous and in the Queen's favor and that is what mattered then. Cate is naive and a little desperate for the Queen's love and eventually Walter Ralegh's. I enjoyed seeing her evolve and become more assure of herself. It was a gradual thing which I think made it more believable. Manteo (a Native American) is basically the guide for the English when they get to his homeland. He tries to pave the way to good relations between the different tribes and the English. His intentions are good and although he is an intelligent person he is also a little naive.

The colonists endured a lot of tragedy, much of which I believe they brought upon themselves. Once again, egotism and intolerance causes a lot of damage. The self destruction of the colonists when overwhelmed by fear and desperation seemed inevitable from almost the start. There are some historically accurate aspects to the story but ultimately it is fiction. I can appreciate the effort the author made to make it all seem so real though. The ending was amazing. I loved the author's take on what happened to the colonists and in my mind that is how I would hope it happened as well. Although this is a young adult book I believe that adults who enjoy reading historical fiction would like this book as well.

4/5

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for me to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.
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