Book Review: Cate of the Lost Colony by: Lisa Klein



Publish Date:
October 12, 2010

From Publisher for Review


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One of the greatest mysteries of all time...and a love triangle that spans two countries

Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens - until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Ralegh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Ralegh's colony of Roanoke, in the New World. Ralegh pledges to come for Cate when he sails for the settlement with supplies, but as the months stretch out, Cate begins to doubt his promise and his love. Instead it is Manteo, a Croatoan Indian, whom the colonists - and Cate - increasingly turn to. Yet even as Cate's longings for England and Ralegh begin to fade and she discovers a new love in Manteo, Ralegh will finally set sail for the New World...

Seamlessly weaving together fact with fiction, Lisa Klein's newest novel is an engrossing tale of adventure and forbidden love kindled by a real life mystery: the fate of the Roanoke colonists, who disappeared without a trace into the pages of history.

Review: Cate has the unfortunate honor of falling for Sir Walter Ralegh - the Queen's favorite - which gets her exiled to the New World. A land of so-called 'savages', war, and hard living. Cate now has to put England and Ralegh behind her and make her life work in the colony of Virginia - Roanoke, in fact. Cate's part of the "Lost Colony".

Here's a bit of history about the Lost Colony: "In 1587, Raleigh dispatched a group of 117 colonists. They were led by John White, an artist and friend of Raleigh who had accompanied the previous expeditions to Roanoke. The settlers landed on Roanoke Island on July 22, 1587. On August 18, White's daughter Eleanor gave birth to the first English child born in the Americas, Virginia Dare. Before her birth, White re-established relations with the neighboring Croatans and tried to re-establish relations with the tribes that Ralph Lane had attacked a year previously. The aggrieved tribes refused to meet the new colonists. Shortly thereafter, a colonist named George Howe was killed by natives while searching for crabs alone in Albemarle Sound. Knowing what had happened during Ralph Lane's tenure in the area and fearing for their lives, the colonists persuaded Governor White to return to England to explain the colony's situation and ask for help. There were approximately 115 colonists — the 114 remaining men and women who had made the trans-Atlantic passage and the newborn baby, Virginia Dare — when White returned to England.

Crossing the Atlantic as late in the year as White did was a considerable risk, as evidenced by the claim of pilot Simon Fernandez that their vessel barely made it back to England. Plans for a relief fleet were initially delayed by the captain's refusal to sail back during the winter. Then, the coming of the Spanish Armada led to every able ship in England being commandeered to fight, which left White with no seaworthy vessels available to return to Roanoke. He did manage, however, to hire two smaller vessels deemed unnecessary for the defence and set out for Roanoke in the spring of 1588. This time, White's attempt to return to Roanoke was foiled by human nature and circumstance; the two vessels were small, and their captains greedy. They attempted to capture several Spanish ships on the outward-bound voyage to improve the profitability of their venture, but were captured themselves and their cargo taken. With nothing left to deliver to the colonists, the captains returned to England.

Because of the continuing war with Spain (Anglo-Spanish War), White was not able to mount another resupply attempt for three more years. He finally gained passage on a privateering expedition that agreed to stop off at Roanoke on the way back from the Caribbean. White landed on August 18, 1590, on his granddaughter's third birthday, but found the settlement deserted. His men could not find any trace of the ninety men, seventeen women, and eleven children, nor was there any sign of a struggle or battle. The only clue was the word "Croatoan" carved into a post of the fort and "Cro" carved into a nearby tree. All the houses and fortifications had been dismantled, which meant their departure had not been hurried. Before he had left the colony, White had instructed them that if anything happened to them, they should carve a Maltese cross on a tree nearby, indicating that their disappearance had been forced. As there was no cross, White took this to mean they had moved to Croatoan Island, but he was unable to conduct a search. A massive storm was brewing and his men refused to go any farther. The next day, they left."

'Cate of the Lost Colony' is the story of those settlers and what could have really happened to them told through Cate, Manteo, and Ralegh's eyes. It is a great story and I enjoyed every word. If you like historical fiction, you'll love this book!


  1. Thank you for the review! We've posted a link on our official Facebook fan page:

  2. At its best when in the Colony
    The book starts off strong and then slogs to Daniel Steel-esque melodrama in the middle complete with wayward, mentally unbalanced, children and a roaming, weak, husband. Thus, I really didn't care for half of the book and almost gave up reading it halfway through.


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