In doing primary research on the Pilgrims, I discovered there are no contemporary references to the Pilgrims landing on what is now known at Plymouth Rock. Neither William Bradford’s description of the Pilgrims coming ashore in Plymouth for the first time in 1620 nor the 1622 book called Mourt’s Relation mention any rocks in their accounts. A huge granite rock was mentioned as something marking the site where the Pilgrims would land, but not that they would land ON it.
The first written mention of a rock was made in 1715 when it was described in town boundary records as “a great rock.”
The Landing of the Pilgrims, by Henry Bacon, 1877.
Perhaps its identity was transmitted from father to son, because in 1741 Elder Thomas Faunce documented his claim that Plymouth Rock was the landing place of the Pilgrims. He was 95 years old at the time and had to be carried in a chair to the site. The Rock was under the bank of Cole’s Hill, and he assured those present that his father had pointed the Rock out and told him of its importance. Faunce’s father had arrived in the Plymouth colony aboard the ship Anne in 1623 two, years after the Mayflower landing, and Elder Faunce was born in 1647 when many of the Mayflower Pilgrims were still living, so his assertion made a strong impression.
Colonel Theophilus Cotton and the residents of Plymouth decided to move the rock in 1774. In their attempt to relocate it, the Rock split into two parts. The bottom portion was left behind. The top portion was first displayed at the town’s meeting house, then in 1834 moved to Pilgrim Hall (1824), the oldest public museum in the United States in continuous operation.
In the meantime, the Pilgrim Society had a Victorian canopy built over the lower portion of the Rock. It was designed by artist and architect Hammett Billings, who did the original drawings for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and completed in 1867. The top of the rock was moved from Pilgrim Hall to rejoin the lower portion in 1880, and at that time the date 1620 was carved into it.
In 1920, the rock was moved yet again so old wharves could be removed and the Plymouth waterfront re-landscaped. The rock was then returned to its original site and placed at water level, so it was tide washed. The original canopy was removed and an imposing Roman Doric portico constructed, designed by McKim, Mead and White, architects for among other buildings, among them those on the campus of Columbia University.
It is not surprising that during its many journeys, numerous pieces of the rock were taken, bought and sold. There are pieces in Pilgrim Hall Museum, as well as in the Patent Building in the Smithsonian and a 40-pound piece is set on a pedestal in the cloister of the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Tourist and souvenir hunters chipped away at it in its early days on display. The original rock weighed some 20,000 pounds but only one-third of the top portion is on display under the canopy.
“We have come to this Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labours; our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety; and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty, which they encountered the dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven, the violence of savages, disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and establish.” Daniel Webster, 1820 (the same Daniel Webster that debated the devil at what is called Jabez Corner in Plymouth, in the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet).
Over the centuries, Plymouth Rock has become a national icon and crept into America’s historical consciousness through the imagination of authors, painters, and, yes, politicians, To some it is a symbol of white oppression. I tend to agree with Daniel Webster, especially based on the relationship of the Pilgrims with the local Native Americans.
I purchased the book for review as a member of Rosie Amber’s book review team.
This book covers multiple generations of the titled Scawton family of England. The center of the story is the current Lady Scawton, Pamela, who discovers the body of a stranger in the woods near the family home of Ashly House.
Pamela represents perhaps the last generation of the English upper class raised to be waited on and respected for their title alone, but she is, in fact, rather down to earth. She endured years of emotional and psychological trauma at the hands of her husband, CJ, and her only son, Charles, now Lord Scawton, is as selfish and overbearing as her husband.
In the pocket of the stranger is a letter addressed to Lord Scawton and an odd stone, one which changes color from green to pink, depending on the light. Pamela has no idea why the stranger, who had come to England from New Zealand, wanted to see her husband, what the abbreviated letter means, nor the reason for the stone. Eventually, she, against the strong wishes of her son, she travels to New Zealand to get answers. The stone, an alexandrite, mined in Tsarist Russia, gives its name to the book.
The book has numerous flashbacks to scenes involving the family and their servants during the two decades after WWar I, and from Ashly House to New Zealand farmland. Pamela’s trip reveals how the flashbacks to events after WW I are woven into the present.
I enjoyed the book, but for me it was a long read, with a great deal of exposition and some confusion with the many characters in the various time lines and places and multiple points of view. A character list at the beginning of the book would have been helpful. The site transitions within chapters also created some difficulties for me as I struggled to identify and remember the characters.
That being said, the author does a wonderful job creating the main characters. I felt pity for Pamela having such a difficult married life, knowing she was trapped there, and having a son who treated her disrespectfully. She is such a good character that I wanted to shake her and tell her to stand up for herself. It was gratifying that eventually she did. Her son Charles; the butler Godfrey; Ginny, the daughter of Pamela’s friend Di Williams; and Theodore Cook, the brother of the dead man and a shambling old wreck in and out of his memories, made strong impressions. I also liked the scenes set in New Zealand, where the author resides, especially the sheep shearing and Karekare Beach.
Another strong element for me was the description of the different roles of women set against the British class system, class conflicts and changing societal values.
This book had much to recommend it, but the numerous characters and their relationships are difficult to sort out through the various stories winding within the book.
About the author
Born in England, Dione Jones has been a New Zealand resident for years. Married to Chris and with two adult children, she lives on a small farm in South Auckland. She has had varied pursuits: at one stage she flew and helped sell aeroplanes and at another ran a laboratory in an abattoir. Her interest now encompasses her family and grandchildren, dogs, horses and polo, the business world, the environment we live in, historical changes in society – and of course good books. Writing is a long held passion and she is now a Master of Creative Writing.
You can find Dione Jones
On Twitter @DioneJonesAuthor
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DioneJonesAuthor/
The Alexandrite can be purchased on Amazon:
It’s lovely to meet them, and I hope they’ll stop back for a visit from time to time.
Eamon at https://artofneed.com has a book out: Divide the Dawn for those of you enthralled by the living dead!
Alison Little at https://alisonlittleblog.wordpress.com writes about women’s issues and showcases her art – painting of sculptural forms which represent areas of urban residence. Very lovely!
Michael Frank at https://peachfuzzcritic.com. Michael is a 20-something who blogs about movies.
https://modelelenamollymurgu.home is the blog of very beautiful model Elena Molly Murgu, who models for high end magazines such as Vogue. Her blog is about fashion news and trends, designers, models, style and the business of fashion. Any fashionista out there will love her blog.
Divya Srivastava at https://exploringmelife.wordpress.com. Her blog is an advice column and she has a ton of followers.
Tanner Shurtliff at https://tfam13.com. Tanner is writing a sci fi series on his blog called The Pale Chronicles. Sci fi fans out there will like this.
Lance at https://beyondthecryptsandcastles.wordpress.com is writing a four book series called Beyond the Crypts and Castles, a working title, set on the fictional continents of The New World and The Old World. The books are in the genre of Game of Thrones, and he’s publishing chapters for comments and advice from readers.
Sandeep Dhawan at https://insightful.co.in who blogs about geopolitics. Great topic!
Viktor Shklvtch from the Ukraine at https://id9272288zfvdgk.home.blog/
https://pickvitaminhome.wordpress.com/ a blog about the uses and benefits of vitamins
Capitan Quiros at https://capitanquiros.com He blogs in Spanish, so I can partially understand. He is a writer, student teacher, and a blogger. Captain Quirós raises a series of reflections and tips for a change of real life and personal transformation. He is currently working on his first book
Mom the Book Thief at https://thebookthiefsblog.wordpress.com, age twenty four with a full time job, a boyfriend, two lovely dogs, two sometimes lovely siblings (of the moody teenager variety) and an obsession with books. Her blog center around all things books.
KC Avalon at https://kcavalon.com/ author of Three in the Key, a suspense novel with romance!
hellyton – no info, just a gravatar
As a run-up to the publication of The Last Pilgrim, I am re-posting blog pieces I wrote earlier about the Separatists. Remember, they were not called ‘Pilgrims’ until named that by William Bradford toward the middle of the 17th century.
When the Separatists finally settled on what is now Plymouth to be their home, their food supplies were spoiled and running low. They had long before run out of fresh water, which they were able to renew from springs they discovered in their explorations of Cape Cod. One of the things this site offered was a brook with good water, which teemed with spawning fish once a year.
The was no livestock on the Mayflower. The only animals mentioned in any historical reports are two dogs, an English mastiff and an English spaniel. However, they must have brought some chickens because chickens wandered freely in the early village and were fed worms because grain was in short supply. Here were possibly some goats and pigs. By 1623, a visitor to the colony reported there were six goats, fifty pigs and many chickens.
The Fortune was the second ship to reach the Plymouth Colony, but other than the passenger manifest, I’ve been unable to find any mention of animals aboard. The first cows arrived on the ship Anne in 1623, and they were nicknamed the ‘Great Black Cow,’ the ‘Lesser Black Cow,’ and the ‘Great White-Backed Cow.’ By 1627, two of them had had calves. Onboard the Jacob in 1624 were four black heifers. By May 1627, there were 16 head of cattle and at least 22 goats living in the colony.
So the Pilgrims initially had a source of eggs, possibly some pork (after the pigs had offspring) and maybe a bit of goat’s milk; however, they had no butter, milk, cheese or cream. I’ve found no mention of goat cheese. They had no flour, except for what they brought with them, and that would undoubtedly have been moldy after so long in the Mayflower’s lowest deck. After the first year’s corn harvest, they had corn flour for making bread.
They did plant barley (for beer) and peas in the spring of 1621, but the plants did poorly, possibly because, unlike the corn, they lacked fertilizer. The Pilgrims were taught how to grow corn by the Wampanoags, specifically Squanto – two fish were planted with a few corn kernels, and squash was planted around the corn stalks and twined around them as the corn grew, providing the corn with shade from the sun. The Indians also taught them how to fish and hunt. Remember that the Pilgrims were not farmers but craftsmen and tradesmen, used to purchasing their food, and they knew little of survival skills. How amazing is it then, that they survived?
In his journal for the year 1622, William Bradford, the second governor of the Plymouth colony, recorded the landing of new colonists from England. Bradford confessed that he and his fellow colonists were humiliated because with their limited food resources, that they had little better to offer the newcomers than lobster.
One thing I’ve found is that Plymouth Harbor teemed with fish of all sorts, and the nearby streams had eels. In fact, I used to play in one of them (aptly named Eel River) when I was a child. There were abundant wild turkeys, swans, geese and ducks, and deer and rabbits in the forests. Plus there were mussels, clams and lobsters – the latter so common that they could be plucked by the bushel from the nearest tidal pool.
In considering what the Pilgrims ate, you must consider what was normal for the time: beer, bread, meat and cheese. English settlers looked on seafood – except for oysters and eels – with scorn. The Pilgrims wanted meat, not anything from the sea. They weren’t trained as fisherman and had brought the wrong size fish hooks. They had to fashion some when it was clear they would need fish to fertilize their corn and feed their pigs.
With regard to drink, beer was the preferred drink for the whole family, even children. It is possible, from some of what I’ve read, that a few families in Plymouth brewed a small amount of beer from corn in the first years. Most had to drink water, which at that time was considered unhealthy! Eventually the colonists realized their children remained healthy, despite drinking water instead of beer. Cow’s milk was not considered good to drink either, and when it was eventually available it was usually made into butter or cheese, or cooked with grain to make porridges.
From all this, it is clear that one of the Plymouth colonists’ main goal was to get food on their tables, in order to survive. Most of the work that they did — hunting, fishing, farming, gardening, cooking, and taking care of their animals — had to do with getting and preserving food, enough for the whole year.
The women had brought a few spices with them, and they grew onions, garlic, lettuces, carrots, parsnips, squash and pumpkins during their first year in the New World. But imagine a diet without dairy products, flour, sugar, oil, vinegar, wine and barley for beer. While these staples eventually arrived yearly on ships from England, the Pilgrims’ first two years were hard! And yet, after the first winter, they were a hale and hearty population – perhaps because of a healthy diet?
I was introduced to Tony Riches when I read his Tudor Trilogy and reviewed all three books. I loved them and wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy another series from this author quite as well. I’m pleased to say that the first in the Brandon Trilogy – Mary, Tudor Princess – is very much up to what I’d hope for. The author creates plausible and well-rounded characters against the background of detailed and true history. His writing engages the reader’s interest and doesn’t let go.
Another draw for me was that the central character here is not Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, but Mary, his sister. In literature, she is eclipsed by the charisma and outrageousness of her brother and one might think Mary would be cunningly used by Henry as a pawn in his machinations to maintain and increase his power. As it turns out, Mary is as clever a Tudor as Henry.
As drawn by the author, Mary’s life is not an easy one. Her mother and father both died when she still young, and she knew her brother would use her marriage for political gains. Mary was first betrothed to Charles, the son of Philip I of Castile, who would become the Holy Roman Emperor. But when Henry sees a better opportunity for himself, the engagement is called off, and Henry sends her instead to France, where at the age of 18, she marries the elderly and ailing King Louis XII. She treats the king with kindness and respect, but when he dies, she wants to marry the man with whom she is already in love, Charles Brandon, the first Duke of Suffolk.
The author creates in Mary a clever, loyal and sympathetic woman, who risks the king’s anger to marry and raises both children and step children in a loving household. But the Tudor world is turbulent and dangerous, and she must carefully balance her affection for Queen Catherine against the machinations of the ambitious and calculating Ann Boleyn. Keeping her family and her husband safe against the predations of the royal court and Henry’s demands is occasionally overwhelming, especially later as she deals with a progressive illness.
I delighted in the detail of the court and was impressed with the difficulties from the political maneuvering and complex drama of Henry’s court that Mary had to manage. Mr. Riches draws a colorful web against the history of the time.
Mary – Tudor Princess is quite different from the books of the Tudor trilogy, and it took some adjustment on my part. It lacks in the head-long action of those trilogy books, seen from a male point of view, but this book presents Tudor history through a woman’s eyes – totally different, just as revealing, and just as much a compelling read. Kudos to the author.
I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, and especially to those enamored with the Tudor era, as something quite different in the telling.
About the author
Tony Riches was born in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and spent part of his childhood in Kenya. He gained a BA degree in Psychology and an MBA from Cardiff University and worked as a Management Consultant, followed by senior roles in the Welsh NHS and Local Government.
After writing several successful non-fiction books, Tony decided to turn to novel writing. His real interest is in the history of the fifteenth century, and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period. His novels Warwick, The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham have both become Amazon best sellers.
Today Tony has returned to Pembrokeshire, an area full of inspiration for his writing, where he lives with his wife. In his spare time he enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.
Visit Tony online at
Tony Riches Author on Facebook
on Twitter @tonyriches.
Mary – Tudor Princess can be found on Amazon:
I am a huge fan of Mae Clair, having wandered happily through pretty much everything she’s written. Take a pinch of history, a curse or time-traveling threat, a touch of the supernatural and a whole lot of mystery and you have one of her books!
A Desolate Hour is the last in her Point Pleasant series, but you don’t need to read the first or second to enjoy this one – the creepiness is nicely explained as the story unfolds. This book is a superb ending to the series.
Something happened in the area in 1777 – the brutal murder of a Shawnee Chief who cursed the town of Point Pleasant with his dying breath. At the same point in time, a man named Obadiah Creech (great name!) performed a ceremony of evil incantation in revenge for the death of his wife, and Jonathan Marsh happened upon it.
Over the years, the town has been devastated by a series of catastrophes and is barely managing to stay alive as a result. Adding to its sad history are the sightings over the centuries of a supernatural being the townspeople call the Mothman, an enormous alien being with huge wings and dazzling red eyes.
Living now in Point Pleasant is a descendant of Obadiah Creech – Shawn Creech, former winning dirt-track racer but now a day laborer and a drunk, being divorced by his wife for domestic violence. Quentin Marsh, a descendant of Jonathan Marsh, arrives in town to see if he can determine why, when twins are born into his family, one of them always meets disaster. His sister is carrying twins and wants him to discover the nature of the curse and why their family is involved. Was his ancestor involved in the killing of the Shawnee Chief?
Sarah Sherman, a historian working at the town library, helps Quentin in his search. Although she doesn’t believe in curses, she feels compelled to use her knowledge of Point Pleasant to uncover the long-buried truth, perhaps because she and Quentin possess eerily similar family heirlooms. As the two of them dig into the past, Shawn Creech become possessed by an evil spirit linked to Obadiah’s hunting knife. The deeper Sarah and Quentin go in their search, the more the ancient mystical forces surrounding Point Pleasant become enraged.
I’d love to say more, but I want the reader to discover the enjoyment of a good read for themselves.
As I’ve said with previous books, Mae Clair has crafted a gem of a creepy thriller about supernatural occurrences and a centuries-old monster. The tale is chilling, but not particularly gory. I loved the characters, so well-drawn, and the author is supremely talented at physical descriptions, which add color and atmosphere to the overall tension of the story. There are many twists and turns in the plot, and I couldn’t wait for the author to resolve all the questions she created for me. This is one book a reader cannot put down, and I highly recommend it.
About the author
A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae loves creating character driven fiction in settings that weave contemporary elements of mystery and suspense with urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania, and is passionate about writing, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.
You can find her
On twitter: @maeclair1
On the internet at: https://maeclair.net/
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maeclairauthor/
A Desolate Hour is on Amazon:
A new arrival on February 11, Elias James. ‘Nuff said!