To Have and To Hold

Mary Johnston

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This was the #1 best-selling novel in the United States in 1900, made into movies several times in subsequent years. It is set in colonial North America, beginning in the year 1621. A new movie adapted from the book was filmed in 2011.

The dialog is Early Modern English, somewhat similar to Shakespeare's writings, not contemporary English but similar enough to be understood. The narration is almost modern English, easily understood.

An English soldier, Ralph Percy, turned Virginian explorer in Jamestown colony, buys a wife -- a girl named Jocelyn Leigh -- not knowing that she is the escaped ward of King James I, fleeing a forced marriage to Lord Carnal. Jocelyn has no love for Ralph at first; she even seems to abhor him and explains she only married to have refuge after she fled from England, under an assumed name. Lord Carnal, Jocelyn's husband-to-be, eventually comes to Jamestown to find his promised bride, not knowing that Ralph Percy and Jocelyn Leigh are already man and wife.

Lord Carnal attempts to kidnap Jocelyn several times and eventually follows Ralph, Jocelyn, and their two companions, as they escape from the King's orders to arrest Ralph and carry Jocelyn back to England.

This romance-epic-adventure novel carries the reader along with humor, shipwreck, pirates, entrapment, false accusations, trial, colonial conflict with Native Americans, capture, rescue, suicide, salvation, love, happy ending -- what more could one want?

(Reference: Wikipedia, LibriVox)

The editor of this Feedbooks edition has provided a few footnotes to explain the less familiar words and some of the historical names as an aid to the reader. Using an eBook reader with a built-in dictionary may also help, but isn't essential to enjoyment of the story.

A free audio-book of this novel is available from LibriVox.org.

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