Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What I'm

Just finished The rising shore : Roanoke by Debora Homsher. I picked it up because, like the author, the story of the Roanoke colony has always fascinated me. Homsher's speculation on what happened at the colony has always seemed to me to be the most rational explanation. So from that standpoint it's obviously a brilliant piece of deduction.

It's also easy to forget that the settlers were Elizabethan to the very core. When we think of later settlement, even Jamestown, the time period we think of is post-Elizabethan. An entirely different sensibility. The sections taking place in England before the trip are well-researched and do a good job of explaining why certain behaviors and attitudes contributed to the tragedy.

Homsher also has a strong interest in women's history and it shows very well in this book. When we think of the Elizabethan woman, we think of an empowered woman. The woman praised by Edmund Spenser in Gloriana. We forget the common woman. Even the titled woman. And forget about the merchant-class woman entirely. Homsher's work does a great job of reminding us of all the classes of women. How they were different and how they were so very alike.

Most particularly, we see women who are subjugated to the men in their lives. Forbidden to make life decisions without guidance of their men or, in the case of servant-women, their betters. We also get a good glimpse of the life of the convict and all its variations in those who were given the chance to leave prison for this venture.

All of these things were very nicely done. Unfortunately, I did not find the book iteself a great fiction read. Homsher has apparently mostly done non-fiction before and this may be her first fiction title. As such, it shows a need for polishing. Each character has interesting facets and yet they tend to blend. It's hard to say, "Oh yes, that's this person, the one with the red hair" or "Oh yes, the character with the red hair is named Hugh." In fact, besides the two main characters, very few stand out. This is a shame because those that survive by returning to England could rate their own books.

It's a decent book. With her knowledge of women's history, I hope Ms. Homsher will continue to work on her fiction-writing and present us with improved examples in the future.

Tomorrow's Iowa's Democratic Caucus. I'm all NPR/CNN/whatever all the time. I love a horserace and, at this posting, it looks like a good one for the democrats. Can't say I care about the Republicans.

Not a whole lot. Thank goodness for DVR and TCM. Props to the writers for their cause. Double-props to Letterman for going live without writers tonight. And thank you to Big Brother for putting together a winter version.

Can I wait for Lost, Jericho, 24, and Heroes? Guess I'll just have to!

It's that familiar rhythmic refrain: "My shoulder is frozen, my chest is aching, would have gone to the doctor but I was sure I was faking."


zirelda said...

I went through a period where I read every woman's diary during the late 1800s and early 1900s I could find. Most of them were on the trail or in gold camps.

I wish I had half the moxie of those women.

D. Homsher said...

Anne, thanks for reading THE RISING SHORE. If you have any questions? Write me.