cover image The Primrose Way

The Primrose Way

Jackie French Koller. Harcourt Children's Books, $15.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-15-256745-3

When the Puritans came to the New World hoping to discover a new Eden, they called themselves saints. At 16, however, Rebekah finds the primitive living conditions and ill treatment of the native peoples of Massachusetts a far cry from a godly paradise. The girl comes to question her faith and her society, and she finally resolves to run away with her Indian boyfriend, Mishannock. While Koller presents a vivid, fact-based portrait of New England in the mid-1600s, her characters lack a sense of immediacy. Rebekah emerges as a colorless heroine with an anachronistic understanding of the exploitation of the surrounding people and natural resources. Her love for Mishannock unfolds in cliches that make even the girl's happy ending seem flat. Fans of period romances might find the proceedings rather tame, but Koller's substantial bibliography and glossaries lend her book some historical value. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)