Release Date: September 29, 2020
Determined to set the historical record straight, and clear her conscience, Temperance Flowerdew — the wife of Virginia’s first two governors — puts quill to paper, recounting the hardships that nearly brought the Jamestown colony to its knees, and the extraordinary sacrifice of her servant girl, Lily.
When she steps aboard the Falcon in 1609, Temperance Flowerdew was not only setting sail from England to the distant shores of America, she was embarking upon a future of opportunity. She didn’t yet know how she would make her mark, but in this new place she could do or be whatever she wanted.
Willing as she is to brave this new world, Temperance is utterly ill-equipped to survive the wilderness; all she knows is how to live inside the pages of adventure and philosophy books. Loyally at her side, Lily helps Temperance weather pioneer life. A young woman running from lifelong accusations of witchcraft, Lily finds friendship with Temperance and an acceptance of her psychic gifts. Together, they forge paths within the community: Temperance attempts to advise the makeshift government, while Lily experiences the blossoming of first love.
But as the harsh winter approaches, Lily intuitively senses a darkness creep over the colony and the veneer of civilized life threatens to fall away — negotiations with the Indians grow increasingly hostile and provisions become scarce. Lily struggles to keep food on the table by foraging in the woods and being resourceful. Famine could mean the end of days. It’s up to Lily to save them both, but what sacrifice will be enough to survive?
A transporting and evocative story, The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is a fiercely hopeful novel — a portrait of two intrepid women who choose to live out their dreams of a future more free than the past.
THE BRIEF AND TRUE REPORT OF TEMPERANCE FLOWERDEW was a dry read and was difficult for me to get into. There were many characters but we only scratched the surface on them including the main characters of Temperance and her maid, Lily. Lily was thought to be a witch based on her visions and how her hair would turn red in spots when she saw or felt something. She was knowledgeable about life, foraging for food, cooking, cleaning and other menial jobs that Temperance took for granted.
The story begins in 1628 where it also ends but in between the story is set in 1609 in England before crossing by boat to Jamestown in Virginia where the majority of the story is told. There we learn of their hardships both on the sea and once housed in the fort. There is not enough food or crops for all that live there and we learn of their hardships but also their struggles with several Indian tribes. There was a lot of attention to detail of the scenery and the ways they lived but it was all on the surface. We never delved deep into the story of why things happened. There was a lot of darkness and tragedy that had me with tears in my eyes since I could feel their pain and misery. Temperance tended to be outspoken and was ultimately married to the first two governors of Virginia. One was a love match while the other was expected of her. Throughout she wrote her report of how she saw things in the settlement but there wasn’t the closure I expected regarding it or her life since she seemed to be in pain and living under a dark cloud.
The story was choppy at times but then would have parts that flowed smoothly. The story ended too abruptly when there seemed to be more story to tell. The book is set during one of my favorite periods of history and at times it felt like I was reading a textbook and not a novel.
This is Ms. Heinze first novel of historical fiction. I’d be interested to see what else she writes in this genre and if it has more what I’m looking for in a novel.