I am a great fan of author Philippa Gregory, and she did not disappoint me in VIRGIN EARTH.
I had not realized that this novel is, in fact, a sequel; certainly, the story and the characters stand alone.
Though Gregory began her writing career in the 20th century and continues now, into the 21st, I am convinced that she somehow is living in England, c. 1600, so thoroughly is she steeped in the rhythms of that time.
Her hero here, John Tradescant, is a man of conflicted loyalties, loving England but excited by its American colony of Virginia, serving King Charles I as his gardener but not desiring to be his soldier, passionate about a Native American squaw in the Virginia colony while blessed with a wonderful wife at home in England.
Those were difficult times in which Gregory places this tale, and the great proof of her success as a storyteller is how engaged the reader becomes in her fictional characters, all the while knowing the ultimate outcome the conflict on which it hinges; to wit, Cromwell's Roundhead Revolution.
The part of the novel that deals with the earliest settlement of Virginia is fascinating. Gregory makes it clear that the United States is a country that was founded on turmoil, strife and cruelty. The suffering she describes, of both slaves and Native Americans, as well as the deathly struggles of the colonists, all are appalling--and these are issues that rarely are examined in full.
Philippa Gregory remains one of the finest authors in the English language. Her fans will be well-pleased by VIRGIN EARTH.