Call upon the Water

Atria. Sept. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781982120962. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781982121013. F
A Dutchman with the soul and skills of an engineer, Jan Brunt takes a job draining the fens of Ely in mid-17th-century England. There he falls in love with an enigmatic Englishwoman named Eliza, yet both work and love fail spectacularly, and he wanders off to Nieuw Amsterdam to practice his trade and think about that woman who sabotaged his opportunity in Britain. Eliza, on the other hand, is arrested, indentured, and sent to Virginia, where she insinuates herself into a wealthy family and puts to use what she learned of controlling land and water from Jan. Eventually, Eliza becomes mistress of the plantation and the object of much attention, if still mysterious in her ways. The story ends in the newly named New York some years later, with Jan and Eliza aware of each other, wondering if their love is still there.
VERDICT Historian and author (Tides of War) Tillyard’s lyrical novel aptly recounts the dour days of Cromwell, the promise of the Restoration Era, and everyday life during those times, offering something for history buffs and romantics alike.

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