Monday, October 6, 2008

Books: Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky

This weekend we were fortunate enough to take a bite out of Uncle Chichi's book! (Literally. We accidentally got a little bit excited and gnawed on it a teensy bit! But don't worry, it's still readable!) After that, we went back to finishing our book club book, Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky by Connie Lapallo. We were excited about this historical fiction book based on the original Jamestown settlers, with factual evidence taken from historical accounts, but we were disappointed a little bit on the delivery. The story was great, but her writing lacked conviction and we found ourselves hungry (during the starvation chapters) and unenthused.

This book follows the true life story of Joan Pierce, an ancestor of the book's author, her difficulties in England, and eventually her sojourn to Jamestown, Virginia. Joan was no stranger to hardship as in the space of a few short years she lost her parents, a husband, and a child when her second husband suggested that they try their hand at a pilgrimage to the New World. Joan agreed and they set off, leaving one of their children behind. The book is a testament to human strength and courage, and was an informative and interesting read.

Quick vote: This book had loads of potential and we loved the story, but the writing was not enough to make us stop biting our own tails.


Anonymous said...

Dear Maggie and Sammi,

I’m not sure what you mean by Ms. Lapallo’s “writing lacked conviction.” I wanted to make sure we were on the same page (no pun intended) so I looked up the dictionary definition of “conviction” and found the following: “an unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence” and “a fixed or strong belief” which seems to be a strange way to describe a person’s writing…

If this really is what you meant, that Ms. Lapallo doesn’t believe what she’s writing about or that she’s not a capable and talented writer, then I would say you are mistaken. She lives near me and I’ve heard her speak a couple times and anyone who has heard Ms. Lapallo speak on the subjects of Jamestown or her writing would know that she does not lack in the conviction department.

I also felt hungry while reading about the starving time and several friends said the same. This was not boredom…this was the skill of the writer. She’s a natural wordsmith. Did you feel tense during the storm? Sad when the baby died? Scared when Joan wondered what the New World would be like? I did, and everyone I’ve talked to has said the same.

I hope I am mistaken in your use of the word “conviction” as her writing lacks anything but.

Cassandra Anne said...


We're very sorry that you disagree with our review of Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky by Connie Lapallo.

We understand your frustration, it never feels good to have something you love and admire marked as mediocre by others, but we stand by our judgments. The book did invoke some of the emotions you discussed, but not to the extent that we hoped for or expected.

As to our usage of the word conviction, perhaps the word 'compelling' is a better term, but we did not feel that the book, despite the author's feeling the contrary, demonstrated any such 'unshakable belief.'

We mean to make no judgment on Ms. Lapallo, her beliefs, or even her writing style. We are here to judge her book, and we found it lacking.

Thank you for reading and we hope we did not offend,
Maggie & Sammi