Mary's Land

Lucia St Clair-Robson, Author, Lucia St Clair Robson, Author Ballantine Books $24 (465p) ISBN 978-0-345-37196-6
Set in the ``wild country'' colony of Maryland in the mid-17th century, Robson's (Light a Distant Fire) languidly paced novel brims with authentic detail and dialect but, because of a tepid plot, fails to bring this historical period to full life. In 1638, Anicah Sparrow, a tough-talking 13-year-old pickpocket, is kidnapped in Bristol, England, and held inside the rat-infested bowels of a ship bound for Mary's Land, where she'll be sold as an indentured servant to the highest bidder. Several decks above is Margaret Brent, a 37-year-old descendant of English nobility who, along with her devout sister and brother, is being smuggled out of England to avoid persecution for illegally practicing Catholicism. Arriving in the New World, Anicah is sold to Samuel Smythe, a local tavern owner, but manages to steal away for romantic trysts with Martin, another indentured servant. Meanwhile, Margaret, who had purchased property in the new colony in exchange for transporting laborers from England, and who despaired upon first viewing the desolate land, begins building her new manor and planting tobacco and other crops. Robson diligently chronicles the struggles facing the new settlers and the ongoing battles over religious freedom, but few of her characters, including real-life historical personages like Margaret, inspire more than ordinary interest. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate selections. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/1995
Release date: 08/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 10 pages - 978-0-345-40628-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-517-19856-8
Paperback - 484 pages - 978-0-595-30105-8
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