Dawn's Early Light by Elswyth Thane
Postby Michy » Wed July 28th, 2010, 3:34 pm
I am always in search of a new author to love; unfortunately, most of the time when I try a new-to-me author I end up disappointed. But Dawn's Early Light was an immensely enjoyable book; if this is typical of Elswyth Thane's writing then I have struck gold!
Dawn's Early Light is set in Williamsburg, Virginia during the Revolutionary War. The book begins the day that Julian Day steps off the ship from England, and ends the day that the British surrender at Yorktown. In between is a delightful story of five young people whose lives and affections are crossed and intertwined.
Thane's writing is evocative; she is particularly effective at creating a sense of place. She can almost make you smell the roses in the hot, dusty Virginia summers, or see the fireflies in the twilight. Her battlefield scenes depict the sights and smells and the awful hardship that was war in 18th century America, especially for the ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-armed Colonial forces. She also creates a strong sense of the feel of the times. One particular passage that stood out to me was early in the book, as Julian ponders the vast unknown wilderness of the American continent at that time. He is almost overwhelmed by the huge, wild unknown that lies just beyond the mountains. In this day and age it is hard for us to imagine that feeling, but Thane conveys it well. I like that her writing is poignant, but never sentimental or maudlin and never too deeply sad, either; there are places where the book brings a pang to your heart, but it doesn't make you cry.
The greatest strength of this book is the characterizations. Thane has created a cast of 5 young adults who occupy center stage throughout the story, and their personalities are distinct, well-drawn and engaging. She also weaves into the plot the famous people of the day -- Washington, Jefferson, Lafayette and others-- in a way that is perfectly seamless. She even gives her imagined characters numerous personal encounters with the great men, and manages to do it in a way that is absolutely plausible.
I highly recommend this book. I look forward to reading more by Elswyth Thane and am glad she was so prolific, and that her works are so easily available through Amazon and the library.
Helen Elswyth Thane Ricker Beebe (May 16, 1900 � July 1984) was an American romance novelist. Born in Burlington, Iowa, she was the daughter of a local teacher and high school principal. The family moved to New York City in 1918, and "Helen Ricker" changed her name to "Elswyth Thane". She began working as a freelance writer in the 20s, and became a newspaper writer and a Hollywood screenwriter. Her first novel, Riders of the Wind, was published in 1926. Her novel, The Tudor Wench, about Elizabeth I of England, was made into a play.
On September 22, 1927, she married 50-year-old naturalist and explorer William Beebe. Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt was one of the guests at the wedding. 'Will' Beebe (2nd from left) and wife Elswyth Thane (far right) with friends at home near Wilmington, Vermont in 1957
Beebe died in 1962, leaving only half of his estate to his widow. She lived on the couple's farm in Wilmington, Vermont. Her last work, Fighting Quaker: Nathaniel Greene, was published in 1972. When she died, she left her papers to the University of Iowa.
Thane is most famous for her "Williamsburg" series of historical fiction. The books cover several generations of a single family from the American Revolutionary War up to World War II. The action moves from Williamsburg in later books to England, New York City and Richmond, Virginia.
Her most romantic book is TRYST, 1939.
* Dawn's Early Light (1934)
* Yankee Stranger (1944)
* Ever After (1945)
* The Light Heart (1947)
* Kissing Kin (1948)
* This Was Tomorrow (1951)
* Homing (1957)
SeriesRediscovered Classics: Williamsburg
Books:Yankee Stranger, May 2017
Rediscovered Classics: Williamsburg
Dawn's Early Light, May 2017
Rediscovered Classics: Williamsburg
Strength Of The Hills, October 1998
Kissing Kin, October 1996
Ever After, May 1996
The Light Heart, October 1994
This Was Tomorrow, October 1994
Homing, June 1994
Yankee Stranger, January 1983
Tryst, June 1980
Yankee Stranger, January 1976