Pocahontas

Susan Donnell, Author Berkley Publishing Group $8.95 (456p) ISBN 978-0-425-12617-2
Weighted down by ponderous prose and trite romantic elements, this first novel by a woman who claims to be a direct descendant of Pocahontas presents an uninspired version of the life of the legendary Indian princess who was instrumental to the survival of the 17th-century English settlement at Jamestown, Va., who was an early convert to Christianity, explored and adopted an entirely new culture, had two husbands (one Native American, one English) and yet lived only to the age of 21. Donnell's demeaning assumption is that Pocahontas's acts of bravery must have been motivated by the fact that she and Englishman John Smith were lovers. (Naturally, the acts of courageous men--whether settler or Indian--require no such excuse here.) Although several scenes are set in Jamestown and the Indian towns, the work conveys little sense of how either society operated. In fact, in the book's best-known sequence, Smith's adoption into the Powhatan tribe, Donnell reduces first-rate real-life drama to second-rate melodrama. She pretends (as Smith did in his own writings) that his ceremonial ``execution'' and Pocahontas's last-minute intervention were the real thing. Author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Mass Market Paperbound - 404 pages - 978-0-425-13620-1
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