Jan Wilde's much-needed vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, is anything but restful. Here in this historic restored colonial village, her sleep is invaded by strangers from two centuries in the past. They seem so close, so real—and when Jan awakens in the morning, their lives and loves and the secret they share shadow her very existence. The only way Jan can ever be free is to seek the truth . . . in her dreams.
|Product dimensions:||4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.92(d)|
About the Author
Elizabeth Peters (writing as Barbara Michaels) was born and brought up in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. Peters was named Grandmaster at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986, Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar® Awards in 1998, and given The Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic in 2003. She lives in an historic farmhouse in western Maryland.
Read an Excerpt
Summer 1976-Spring 1774
Jan woke with a start that left every muscle in her body quivering. The room was dark and silent, as it is in the dead hours of early morning, but she was as wide awake as if she had slept for a full eight hours. Oh, no, she thought in disgust . . . not the damn insomnia, not here!
She had come to Williamsburg for a nice rest. "A nice rest" was her mother's phrase, and her mother's idea; but Jan knew what Ellen's real motives were. Not that there was any use in pointing them out. Ellen would have opened her big blue eyes even wider, and wept. She wept neatly and prettily, like the Southern belle she had always yearned to be. No one would have guessed that she had been born Betty Jo Billings, in Wichita, Kansas, and that her father had been a bricklayer. When she had married into the Wilde family of Virginia, she had taken on all the pretensions of their class.
Jan knew she shouldn't be thinking about her mother, not if she wanted to get back to sleep; but she could not help recalling the interminable arguments that had preceded her departure from New York. She had pointed out that Williamsburg was hardly the place for a rest, especially in the Bicentennial summer of 1976.
"The place will be absolutely crawling with tourists," she had protested. "And if the old servant—what's her name?—is in the hospital, I'll have to work myself to death. That's why Aunt Camilla and Uncle Henry invited me, they want a free maid for the summer. They never gave a damn about our branch of the family."
Ellen's raised eyebrows indicated ladylike distaste for herdaughter's vulgarity. As usual, she answered the least important question first.
"Bess. Dear old Auntie Bess. She's been with the family since she was a tiny pickaninny. She would never have deserted your great-aunt and uncle if she hadn't broken her hip."
"It's a wonder she didn't break her neck," Jan said. "She must be seventy—and a fool if she spent her life playing old family servant for those two. At that, she isn't as old as Aunt Camilla—and Uncle Henry must be eighty-five. They need a full-time nurse, not me."
She expected Ellen to produce the arguments she had used before—the ostensible reasons that concealed her real motive. The lovely old family mansion was about to pass out of the hands of the family, after two hundred and fifty years; Jan really ought to see it before it became public property. Imagine, having to buy a ticket to see the home of one's ancestors!
So Ellen had argued, on previous occasions. But she was smarter than Jan realized. This time she simply raised her delicate eyebrows and said softly, "But where else is there for you to go?"
There was no other place. Only Ellen's stuffy little apartment, which was always crowded with Ellen's friends, fluttering in and out for bridge and tea and luncheon, chattering in shrill voices like the flock of molting birds they resembled. During the school year, while she was teaching, Jan was able to keep out of their way. In the sticky New York summer, with her nerves in their stretched state. . . . Even tourist-ridden Williamsburg and two decrepit relatives might be an improvement.
Williamsburg had turned out to be less of a trial than she had expected. During the day it was certainly crowded. As the capital of Virginia during most of the Revolution, the town had a fascinating history. Washington, Jefferson, and Patrick Henry had dined at the Raleigh Tavern and debated independence in the red brick Capitol. Lafayette had lived there, with his commander in chief, before the decisive battle of Yorktown, only thirteen miles away. But the factor that made Williamsburg a tourist mecca was not so much its history as the fact that its historic past had been recreated with a thoroughness no other town or city in America could claim.
When John D. Rockefeller became interested in the town, in 1922, there were over eighty colonial buildings still standing. The original street plan had not changed since 1776. Even so the project had not been easy or cheap. Surviving buildings had been restored to their eighteenth-century appearance, and important structures which had disappeared, such as the Capitol and the Governor's Palace, had been rebuilt, brick by brick, after painstaking research.
The Wilde house was on the Duke of Gloucester Street, the main thoroughfare, and during the day the inhabitants couldn't walk out the front door without encountering a circle of staring visitors, guidebooks in hand. But by midnight the streets were virtually deserted, and from the first night Jan had been delivered from the sleeplessness that had cursed the winter and spring months in New York. She slept like a baby, deeply and without dreaming.
She had fallen asleep quickly enough. Something must have awakened her—if she was awake. Squinting in an attempt to see through the smothering darkness, Jan realized that the room felt different. For one thing, the night was utterly still. The house was air-conditioned, so she kept her windows closed against the muggy Virginia heat, but even through closed panes one could usually hear the occasional sound of a passing car or the distant hum of traffic on Route 60. Tonight there was nothing, except silence so intense her ears rang with it.
Though she could see nothing, she knew the contents of the room by now. The old four-poster bed, with its chintz tester and curtains; the Chippendale chest on the right wall, the fireplace on the left. Between the two windows, opposite the foot of the bed, was the portrait that had fascinated her from the first moment she laid eyes on it. The features took shape in her mind now, without conscious effort: the face of a man with a snub nose and high forehead, his mouse-brown hair drawn back and tied at the nape of his neck.Patriot's Dream. Copyright © by Barbara Michaels. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read this book many years ago and was so surprised to find it for the nook. It is just as much to read now as it was then! If you have visited Williamsburgh You wil be transported right into this story. Being able to picture the area and places makes reading this story a real life experience. Love it!
I absolutely loved this book! I couldn't put it down. This is the first book I have read by Barbara Michaels, but I will definitely be reading more of her work.