About the Book
Author: Shannon McNear
Release date: December 1, 2021
A Journey Full of Hope…
Escape into a riveting story based on the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
Author Shannon McNear portrays history with vivid authenticity.
In 1587, Elinor White Dare sailed from England heavy with her first child but full of hopes. Her father, a renowned artist and experienced traveler, has convinced her and her bricklayer husband Ananias to make the journey to the New World. Land, they are promised, more goodly and beautiful than they can ever imagine. But nothing goes as planned from landing at the wrong location, to facing starvation, to the endless wait for help to arrive. And, beyond her comprehension, Elinor finds herself utterly alone. . . .
The colony at Roanoke disappeared into the shadows of history. But, what if one survived to leave a lasting legacy?
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About the Author
Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. She’s a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, grammie of two, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® finalist. When she’s not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies. Connect with her at www.shannonmcnear.com, or on Facebook and Goodreads.
More from Shannon
Why did I write this story? Well, God shoved the opportunity under my nose, and I didn’t want to be guilty of taking the easy way out, by saying no. 😊
Really, while the concept was fascinating, the execution was daunting, and sometimes terrifying. The Elizabethan Era—before the King James Bible and even before Shakespeare was popular! As a student of the Revolutionary War and surrounding times, I felt very much out of my depth.
Though the research sucked me in, it was also daunting. Sifting through various interpretations of the primary accounts and their own speculations on why they felt things must have gone a certain way. Trying to “find” my story amongst all the theories and opinions. Above all, getting to know my characters and letting them come alive in my own imagination.
And come alive, they did—in full color, with a vividness I did not expect. I hope I was able to translate even a portion of what I envisioned to the page, so that you also can see them!
Even though I went into this book with high expectations based on the author’s previous works, Shannon McNear still exceeded my highest hopes with Elinor. From the moment that I first saw the subtitle denoting this as “Daughters of the Lost Colony 1587,” I knew that I had to read it. Something about that seemingly ill-fated Roanoke Colony fascinates me and never fails to draw me in. How exciting to have a Christian author approach the subject!
First, I would like to give kudos to McNear for undertaking what is currently such a contentious topic in the U.S., that of early American history and race relations. I encourage readers to peruse the author’s historical note following the story’s conclusion, as she addresses several potential concerns relating to culture, fact vs. fiction, and the resources that she employed in writing Elinor. This novel is incredibly timely, and it does not seek to merely gloss over the painful events of white colonization of the New World. Instead, through ultimately focusing on three primary characters, John White, Elinor Dare, and Sees Far, this story explores how their collective journeys dovetail, and the implications thereof. The experience between the Native tribes and the previous explorers, for instance, establishes a precedent that impacts the colonists. Because of the inhumane overreaction and breach of trust of a group of prior English explorers, not all of the Native people welcome the white settlers, and in the words of Sees Far, “It was his people’s way—war and vengeance and the taking of captives. They did their best to exact justice but then were duty bound to accept what Montóac handed them. Whatever that looked like.” While reading and thinking about the wrong actions of both the English and the Natives, the many verses of the Bible that refer to the folly of doing what is right in our own eyes came to mind.
Divided into parts, the first three deal with the colonists’ ad hoc arrival, settlement, and subsequent dilemma at Roanoke, resulting in John White’s return to England for aid, while the last two sections comprise the fate of the colonists, as interpreted by McNear. While clean, Elinor does not romanticize the hardscrabble life of the New World. After a harrowing ocean voyage, Elinor voices to her husband Ananias the desire of the colonists: “I simply wish a place to call home.” Minister Nicholas Johnson shares some of the most memorable lines in the book, notably as Manteo receives his baptism into the Christian faith, reminding the congregants that surrendering entirely to Jesus is their calling: “Our place here in the New World means nothing if we do not both believe and live out that lordship. Our community will be for naught if we are not, first and foremost, a community of God, under God, believing what He has told us in His Word.” As is indicated by history, the colony of Roanoke likely faced serious challenges to their faith as they struggled to survive in the midst of trials.
Two Native tribes feature prominently in Elinor, the friendly Croatoan and the vengeance-seeking Secotan. Elinor finds herself amongst the latter, particularly Sees Far, and this is the most telling segment of the novel. I love that Elinor’s memorization of Scripture and ability to recall it and draw upon it is shown to be vital to her survival. McNear avoids idealizing the hostility between the two people groups, instead demonstrating how faith in Christ provides a stronghold and a refuge during dire circumstances. It is this expression of faith that confounds those who are not Christians and serves as a witness to the unbelieving. Even so, it is the power of God working within us to accomplish this, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). Humility is essential, as Elinor realizes while contemplating Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and the fact that He can use any situation and any person to draw someone to Himself, “Because surely the people of this country were, indeed, as dear to God as any of the English. How arrogant they were to think they alone had obtained His favor.” The same is true today. Moreover, another section of Nicholas Johnson’s sermon resonates strongly today and seems a fitting summary of the key message of Elinor, and of how we should all approach one another, because truly there is only one race, the human race:
“Her Majesty the Queen may have had her own purpose for placing us here, as much for the glory of England as the glory of Christ, but we have our private purpose, that we demonstrate faith and love through our own conversation, in truth and simplicity. Let us not become divided over things that have no eternal weight. We have the freedom here to choose what to eat, where to go, and how to live. Let us not abuse that, but let us also walk in love toward each other.”
An apt fictional exploration of the famous lost colony of Roanoke, Shannon McNear’s Elinor is a well-researched novel abounding in faith, hope, and ultimately love. It would be a wonderful choice for a book club discussion! Conveniently placed after the end of the story, in addition to the aforementioned historical note, is a bibliography, cast of characters, list of regions and people groups, definition of historical terms, and a glossary of Carolina Algonquian words.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥
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Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 8
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For Him and My Family, January 9
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deb’s Book Review, January 10
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Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 12
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To celebrate her tour, Shannon is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.