Maria (Eugenia Price)

Every little slice and angle of American history will always leave me fascinated, and this historical fiction work about the settling and initial development of St. Augustine was no disappointment. Told from the eyes of Maria Evans, a midwife whose reluctant arrival to Florida was only due to her husband's military involvement, this book explores many uncommonly considered elements of life in the new Florida colony. 

We meet her as Maria Evans Fenwick and in a rather bedraggled state as the wife of a very sick British officer. She quickly gains her footing among the influential in changing community as the city transitions from being a Spanish colony over to British control. Early on in her St. Augustine adventure, Maria Evans proves her capacity for resourcefulness and strength, two key traits on which she would lean heavily throughout her life. 

As much as Maria Evans was a woman of strength and dignity, she also quickly became a prominent member of St. Augustine society. Her position in marriage (well, to two of her three husbands - Fenwick and Peavett) and in her skill as a midwife brought her high favor among the elite. 

By the time she had taken her third husband (Hudson), however, the once-ambitious Maria Evans would face tragedy from which there simply would be no coming back, so far as St. Augustine was concerned.  

It was so very intriguing to read about everything from 18th century British military life and customs to the transition between governments (from Spanish to British and back again to Spanish during Maria's time) to the influence of Spanish spies during the American Revolution. As for the book as a whole, I found Maria Evans fascinating, but could take or leave Eugenia Price's style. Many scenes are far too overdone, and still others too meek in detail. There is an interesting thread of spirituality, none of which is communicated clearly or well. 

From what I understand, this is Eugenia Price's first in a three-part series on Florida history. Maria was good, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the settlement and revolutionary period of American history, but...I think her first book is enough for me.  

Resources about Maria Evans:

http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2011-03-12/colonial-st-augustine-midwives-played-unique-role
http://www.staugustinehistoricalsociety.org/mariatourflyer3.pdf
http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2013-10-28/eugenia-prices-novel-maria-introduced-colorful-history-st-augustine-1700s

Resources about St. Augustine:
http://www.floridashistoriccoast.com/
http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/st-augustine.html
http://www.oldcity.com/