Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Magistrate’s Folly in Colonial Williamsburg

by Suzie Johnson

Welcome to Colonial Williamsburg, a place of dreams and ideals, hard work and rewards. It’s a different pace of life here, a trip back in time to the birth of a country. It’s a place where you can look around and see what it was like when history was in the making.

This wonderfully wistful place is the setting for Lisa Karon Richardson’s newest novel, The Magistrate’s Folly. Luckily for her readers, Lisa has very naturally incorporated the essence of the small colonial village into her novel after her characters travel here from England – one of them under less-than-ideal circumstances.

Dressed in period clothing and working as diligently as they did in the days of the colonists, the people of Williamsburg are committed to gracing visitors with the sense of awe and nostalgia that is the very essence of the small colonial village. 

You’ll find colonists everywhere you look, some driving horse-drawn carriages, and some dressed as milliners, firemen, gardeners, patriots, bakers and tailors.

You can visit the church where Thomas Jefferson and George Washington worshiped, and walk through the historic graveyard.

Listen to a speech by Patrick Henry and tromp the same ground these founding fathers did as they gave all they had to establish the freedoms we all enjoy. Take a little respite from the sun under the shade of the very tree where the colonists may have gathered for picnics after church.

Further down the lane you can even have a seat with Mr. Jefferson himself.

Enjoy a slab of ham on fresh baked bread with stone ground mustard. And be sure to watch and listen because the fife and drum band should be making their appearance soon.

But behave yourself lest you end up in the stocks.

Hopefully this little foray into the past will tempt you into seeing Williamsburg from Lisa’s viewpoint in her most enjoyable novel, The Magistrate’s Folly. You won’t be disappointed.  

After her father’s death, Merry Lattimore survives by finding work as governess. Her dull, but tolerable existence is shattered when she is accused of a theft she didn’t commit. Narrowly avoiding hanging, Merry travels to the American colonies as convict labor. Physically, she has been spared harm, but her faith has been mortally wounded. When her sole friend, a slave woman, is accused of murder, Merry is torn between her resolve to return to England and prove her innocence, and her determination to battle injustice.

Magistrate Graham Sinclair thought he’d seen everything in his courtroom, but nothing could have prepared him to see Merry, the girl who jilted him for an Earl’s son, manacled and accused of a crime. He can’t deny the weight of the evidence and reluctantly binds her over for trial. Her transportation to the colonies seems to end the matter until new evidence comes to light that proves her innocence. Graham eagerly secures her pardon, and tracks Merry to Virginia. Drawn into the fight to save a slave woman, he finds himself also hopelessly drawn to the one woman he’s convinced could never return his affection.

When attempts are made to silence Merry and the case seems to be crashing down around them, Merry must trust Graham with her life. But she’s not sure she can trust God with her future.


  1. Thanks Suzie. I love Colonial Williamsburg. It is beautiful, but back in the day there was plenty of harsh reality to balance out the bucolic rural feel.

    And of course in my story there's plenty of conflict too. We're on the cusp of the revolution and passions are running high. Not to mention the fact that there's a murderer running loose.

  2. Oh and I have to remind everyone about the giveaway of a copy of The Magistrate's Folly! Just comment here and be sure to safely include your e-mail address so we can contact you!

  3. I like these museums/historical places that portray life like it was. They are fascinating!

    The books sound great too!

    elaineking1 at hotmail dot com

  4. I love it, too, Lisa. It's one of my favorite places. And I do believe you captured it truly - including the harsh side. I was captivated reading the book both times! :-)

  5. Hi Elaine. History just permeates the air in Williamsburg. My hope is to be able to go there and stay for a week of writing because it's so inspiring.

  6. Lisa, let me start with a really big congratulations!

    Williamsburg is such a neat place. Very romantic, too. And, Suzie, I love how you included a picture of the same building as the one in Lisa's cover. (Although I could never figure out why the men of Colonial Williamsburg wanted to dress like the guys in England. Wool coats in the summer would be appropriate for cool, foggy England. Wool coats for a the summer in Virginia would be a form of torture.)

  7. Thanks CJ! I agree with you totally on wondering what they were thinking. They did the same thing in Colonial India which makes even less sense. And it wasn't just the men. The women's clothes were hardly breezy. Luckily, Magistrate's Folly is mostly set in fall so my hero isn't too miserable.

  8. I agree with you both on the clothes. Yikes. Yes, summers must have been miserable for them. I've been there in summer and can't imagine wearing wool or a heavy dress and all that would go under it.

    CJ, the building picture was so totally coincidental. I remember when I was looking through my photos - seeing one that had the same building, but then forgot about it. So it made it here, but not because I remembered.

  9. Oh, that looks like so much fun!! I have to go there someday. :)

  10. I love places that bring history to life like that. They are far and few between out here in the west... limited to small museums and such, for the most part. I think it's cool how Williamsburg has turned it into a tourist attraction and an economic benefit to the community.

  11. Being a Virginia resident, I also have a hard time picturing the poor Colonials in their ridiculous English clothing. And I always think about the mosquitos, which are out of control in the summer.

    I do love Colonial Williamsburg, though.

  12. Niki, I do think the Williansburg residents who aren't part of the colonial scene are still probably very appreciative of the tourists. I say that because I've been to places in the non colonial part and everyone was nice as pie.

    Dina, I didn't notice mosquitoes when I was there, but I did notice two things I'd never seen before. A cardinal. He is actually sitting on top of the church building in the picture above. Hard to see but he's there. Clearer in closer shots of course. The other thing I came across that I'd not seen - fireflies. They were interesting.

  13. First of all - guess what came in the mail today at my house! hint--the cover looks just like that one above.

    I love Williamsburg for two reasons- the deep historical experience, and because I finally went there last spring with my friends and included a day with Gina, Dina, C.J., and Carrie Pagels. What a sweet memory!

    Can't wait to return but until then, I have Lisa's book!

    Thanks Suzie! I love your photos.

  14. Great post, Suzie! Love the pics. And yes, I love that you included a pic that's so similar to Lisa's cover that I did a triple take! LOL

  15. Deb, I'm so glad you were able to go, and so glad you get to read Lisa's book. Like you, I can't wait to go back. Someday!

  16. Thanks Anita. Well, I did a little exam of my photo, and Lisa's cover. It does look like the photo has a wider porch. Not that it matters, of course. Also, the roof isn't fully displayed in mine.


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