By Kimberly Brock
Publication Date: April 12, 2022
I was excited to review this book. All I knew about it was it was the title – which was enough. An imagined telling of the lost Roanoke colonists? Yes, please! Unfortunately, there isn’t nearly as much about Eleanor Dare as I’d hoped. The majority of the novel focuses on Alice Young and her daughter, Penn, and their return to Alice’s childhood home at the end of World War II. Alice had left Evertell, a plantation situated outside Savannah, Georgia, when she was a child. Her memories are traumatic and she has no intention of staying. Upon their return, the one thing Alice searches for is the Common Book, started by her ancestor Eleanor Dare.
The main story line switches between Alice and Penn, as Alice uncovers her immediate family’s history and lays her own ghosts to rest, while Penn sets out to find herself and put the estate to rights. The story of Eleanor Dare doesn’t begin until the second half of the book, at which point the pace picks up and the story becomes much more interesting. Honestly, I felt it dragged through the entire first half and I had a difficult time getting into it – even going so far as to read another book in the interim.
However, I loved the author’s retelling of the Lost Colony’s fate. Of course, no one knows what happened to them so anything is fair game but she chose an intriguing outcome. And the tie-in with the “current” storyline was wonderful, tracing Eleanor’s lineage through the first born daughter, with each descendant adding receipts and stories to the Common Book. The setting was wonderful, despite the fact the house had seen better days, but any novel set in the deep south is a win in my book.
I only wish the story of Eleanor Dare had figured in more prominently. This could have been an actual time-slip novel, with the 16th century story getting more prominence and fleshing out each scene. As presented, there was little to no character development and I found myself longing for Eleanor to get the same attention as Alice and Penn.
All that said, it was a worthwhile read. I rated this book 3.5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐+
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for providing the ARC copy of this book. I’ve left my review voluntarily and honestly.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
Want to buy The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare?