Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein (Published by Bloomsbury, October 12, 2010)
When her father dies while fighting in the Netherlands in 1583, fourteen-year-old Catherine Archer is left orphaned and penniless. Her fortunes change, however, when in recognition of the fact that Cate’s father died in her service, Queen Elizabeth invites her to come live at court and serve as one of her maids of honor. Cate finds life at court to be rather complicated as no one there is truly free, but rather subject to the will of the Queen. That becomes all too clear when Cate’s secret romance with Sir Walter Ralegh, a handsome young courtier who is a favorite of the Queen’s, is discovered. The furious and jealous Queen sentences Cate to banishment in the new world of Virginia, while Ralegh, who hoped to govern the colony, is forced to remain behind and serve the Queen in England.
As she sets out on the sea voyage with the other Roanoke colonists, Cate is filled with many conflicting feelings. After hearing Ralegh’s tales of the wild and unsettled land of Virginia, and meeting the young Indian Manteo, brought back to England by a previous expedition, Cate had longed to travel to the new world and see it for herself. But she never expected so much hardship. The colonists are abandoned on Roanoke Island, and their governor must return to England to try and bring back supplies. The first years in the colony are filled with starvation, disease, and death. Seemingly abandoned by England, the colonists are on their own and must find a way to survive. Feeling abandoned by Walter Ralegh and now believing that he never truly loved her, Cate must set aside her memories of him, and her old life in England, so that she may survive and build a new life in this new world, perhaps even finding a new love along the way.
I have always been fascinated by the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, so having enjoyed Lisa Klein’s previous books, I was very excited when I first learned about this book. I am happy to say it did not disappoint at all and is in fact one of my favorite books so far this year. Through Cate’s story, which is filled with adventure and romance, the worlds of Elizabethan England and Roanoke Island in 1587 are brought to life, and the story ends with a plausible theory of what might have become of the lost colonists. I highly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys historical fiction or who read and enjoyed the author’s previous novels.