I’m so excited! I’ve finally finished my book A Good Place after a year of research and writing and then months of telling people I was “almost done.” In one form or another, A Good Place has been up on my computer almost every day of the past eighteen months and each time I sat at my desk I found that I couldn’t stay away from it.
I guess you’d call the book a saga. It’s based on a documented tiny piece of history: that in 1622 Thomas Prater, who was eighteen years old, came to Jamestown as an indentured servant. His contract was sold to a man named John Powell, a newly established planter in the area now called Hampton Roads. Prater came from an old and apparently well-off Catholic English family. Catholicism, though, was not tolerated in the Virginia colony. So, why would the son of a well-off family leave England, travel for fourteen months, endure five years of enforced servitude and face the many risks of living in a colony where he must hide his faith?
The book has many colorful characters. Besides Thomas Prater, we get to know a war-weary veteran of battles against Spain in the Netherlands and his young wife–the very conventional daughter of an English baker–as well as his daughter, who was raised for most of her life at the edge of a wilderness. We also get to know Thomas’s fellow-servants: a Puritan forced against this will into indentured service in the wrong colony, a terrified eight-year-old Welsh orphan, and a Mannahoac Indian slave who can’t remember who he was before he taken from his family as a small child. The book includes a love story, a quest, adventures, and “on the ground” views of life in England, the Virginia colonies, and among the native tribes of Virginia.
This has been a wonderful book to research and write. It even has a family of mastiffs in it — my first book with dogs, but definitely not my last.
A Good Place is Volume III of Helena’s Stories: books based on true family stories that personalize documented historic events. Volume I is A Perfect Plan, Volume II is Rule!, and Volume IV will be Promise, which should be out by 2020. The menu in my blog’s heading will take you more information about Helena’s Stories and the projects those stories started, as well as to my newsletter, Thoughts on History.
Dog sketches by Adriaen van de Velde, undated (ca 1665). Sourced from https//www.the-athenaeum.org