One of the great mysteries of the early years of North America’s settlement by Europeans is the lost Roanoke colony. In 1587, 118 people, including children, settled there but later disappeared without a trace. Just a few cryptic clues remained that hinted at their possible fate. What drove them from their settlement? Illness? Native attack? Internal strife?
Essayist and founding editor of Gray’s Sporting Journal Ed Gray dreams up a few possible answers in his first novel, Left in the Wind: The Roanoke Journal of Emme Merrimoth. Gray chooses Emme, an actual Roanoke colonist, as the narrator for his tale. Through her eyes, we experience the new colonists’ distress as they make the difficult crossing from England, their struggle to establish a new home in the wilderness of North Carolina, the dramas and jealousies between families and the disintegration of a community.
Is Gray correct in his explanation of Roanoke’s demise? It’s impossible to say, but his idea is as good as any. Part historical novel, part detective story, Left in the Wind is filled with fascinating details of colonial settlement life and Native-American culture. It’s a gripping story that readers will have trouble putting down.