The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew by Denise Heinze
"A literary thriller. This remarkable novel infuses the history of the Jamestown experiment with the tale of two women, a mistress and her servant, who find in one another the full measure of sacrifice and survival. This story is spun of silk and rendered in blood.''
—Elaine Neil Orr, author of Swimming Between Worlds
"With a poet's tongue and painter's eye, Denise Heinze summons the wonder, horror, and selfless grit of the women who pioneered a new world. Temperance Flowerdew makes compulsive reading.''
—Elizabeth Cobbs, bestselling author of The Hamilton Affair
"Denise Heinze has written a stirring novel about America's first pioneers, with particular attention to the women whose pluck and forbearance made it all possible."
—C. Michael Curtis, Fiction Editor Emeritus, The Atlantic
Determined to set the historical record straight, and clear her conscience, Temperance Flowerdew—the wife of Virginia's first two governors—puts quill to paper, recounting the hardships that nearly brought the Jamestown colony to its knees, and the extraordinary sacrifice of her servant girl, Lily.
When she steps aboard the Falcon in 1609, Temperance Flowerdew was not only setting sail from England to the distant shores of America, she was embarking upon a future of opportunity. She didn't yet know how she would make her mark, but in this new place she could do or be whatever she wanted.
Willing as she is to brave this new world, Temperance is utterly ill-equipped to survive the wilderness; all she knows is how to live inside the pages of adventure and philosophy books. Loyally at her side, Lily helps Temperance weather pioneer life. A young woman running from lifelong accusations of witchcraft, Lily finds friendship with Temperance and an acceptance of her psychic gifts. Together, they forge paths within the community: Temperance attempts to advise the makeshift government, while Lily experiences the blossoming of first love.
But as the harsh winter approaches, Lily intuitively senses a darkness creep over the colony and the veneer of civilized life threatens to fall away—negotiations with the Indians grow increasingly hostile and provisions become scarce. Lily struggles to keep food on the table by foraging in the woods and being resourceful. Famine could mean the end of days. It's up to Lily to save them both, but what sacrifice will be enough to survive?
A transporting and evocative story, The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is a fiercely hopeful novel—a portrait of two intrepid women who choose to live out their dreams of a future more free than the past.
Denise Heinze, a former literature professor and a Ph.D graduate of Duke University, writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She is the author of a scholarly work on Toni Morrison, and the eco-thriller Sally St. Johns. A descendant of Louisa May Alcott, she lives in North Carolina.