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Some novels are filled with descriptive language that pours off the page and into the reader’s visual experience as they journey with the author during the unfolding narrative. William D. McEachern’s latest offering, “New Caledonia: A Song of America,” is his third historical novel and the second in the Caledonia series.
My own interest was piqued, as a family history buff, when I learned that the story’s lead protagonist, James MacEachern, left his beloved wife and infant son in Scotland to escape to the new colonies of America in 1750. “I was considered the most wanted of the group of men and one woman, who had assisted Bonnie Prince Charles’ escape from the hands of the Duke of Cumberland and from the country of Scotland after the Battle of Culloden. I had committed treason and I was not immune from arrest and trial…my son and my wife were in danger, if I stayed.”
Having fled the country, James makes his escape to Amsterdam and waits to embark aboard ship to the New World, one where he yearned to be reunited with fellow kinsman who had set foot on their own journeys in a world that offered promise, prosperity and new beginnings. North Carolina beckoned to him as many Scots and Scots-Irish had settled into farms and communities there; the promise of one day being reunited with his wife and son soon become the catalyst of all his decisions and hard labor.
After landing in Philadelphia, it is not long that James makes the trek along the Great Wagon Road, down the Valley of Virginia to Winchester. It is an arduous journey that brings him in contact with new locales and situations but in the midst, he befriends a young man by the name of Daniel Morgan. They soon start an entrepreneurial venture of hauling freight for the British Army in the French and Indian War.
In the midst of battles and times of upheaval, the author interweaves the events of the daily lives of those early colonists. The reader is immersed in the home life, activities, and social events that framed their earnest desire to build new communities and hopeful futures for generations to come.
Along the way, famous historical characters come into James’ new American life as he is thrust into events that sweep he and fellow colonists into the heart of the American Revolution. News from Scotland ignites his desire to join forces to fight against tyranny.
Interwoven in the novel are endearing letters that give a glimpse into events that have taken place during the time that has passed on two different continents and cultures. This book engages the reader in a time of relationships and events much different than our modern era. I would heartily recommend the reading of McEachern’s novel for the history buff, as well as the family history sojourner, and indeed anyone who appreciates the unfolding of time past on the printed page.
Laure McCourt Lopez
William D. McEachern lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with his wife. He is a father and a grandfather. Mr. McEachern graduated from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, with a B.A. in Psychology and Religion, his Juris Doctor Degree was from Fordham University School of Law in New York City and his Master’s in Law Degree in Taxation was from New York University School of Law. He practiced trusts and estates and tax law for nearly 40 years, before becoming a full time historian writing novels of historical fiction. An avid reader of history, he thoroughly researches and travels extensively to lend authenticity and realism to his works. (Read more at Amazon or other online stores)