SEARCHING FOR VIRGINIA DARE: A Fool's Errand

Marjorie Hudson, Author . Coastal Carolina $19.95 (181p) ISBN 978-1-928556-34-3

In 1587, before Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, three English ships filled with stouthearted men, women and children landed on Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina. Within two months, a child was born—Virginia Dare—the first baby ever born of English parents on American soil. Less than two years later, Virginia and the rest of the "Lost Colony" had vanished. Their fate continues to fascinate scholars of early America. Did the settlers starve from lack of supplies? Were they killed by Native Americans? Wiped out by a hurricane? Or did some of the colonists survive? These questions drive Hudson's admittedly quixotic quest. Put off by the far-out legends and obsessive theories of her predecessors, Hudson begins her search with no preconceptions. She interviews folklorists and archeologists, studies archival records and personal letters, and examines ancient artifacts, only to find what we already knew: nobody really knows what happened to the settlers. Without a central theory to propel the book forward and create suspense, the narrative meanders and loses its way. Hudson ultimately argues that the mystery and loss surrounding Virginia Dare represent a quintessential American story: "Loss reminds us that life is a mystery; that death lurks beneath the surface of our cheerful days; that everything can change in an instant." Nevertheless, the book, Hudson's first, breaks no new ground for serious historians, and its unusual blend of history, fiction and memoir presents too many threads to keep a reader passionately on the hunt. (Apr.)

Forecast:This may have regional interest, but most readers interested in the history of the Roanoke colony will likely prefer last year's Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller.

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 181 pages - 978-0-9793049-6-5
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-1-928556-39-8
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