In the mid-1940s, the great historical novelist Anya Seton embarked on a fervent search for her forebears that led her to Marblehead, Massachusetts, a 'sea-girdled town of rocks and winding lanes and clustered old houses.' There she found not only an ancestor, but also the setting for this, her fourth novel. It is not only the story of Marblehead, from its earliest settlement to the present, and of a family who settled and stayed there in the Hearth and Eagle Inn; it is also the story of Hesper Honeywood, a passionate young woman whose long and dramatic life, full of triumph and tragedy, contained the history of both. In one of her most ambitious novels, Anya Seton here created one of her most memorable heroines, and one of her most varied tales.
It is the story of a beautiful, gifted woman who leaves the magic mountains of her native New Mexico for the piratical, opulent, gaslit New York of the 1870s—only to end her search for happiness back in the high, thin air of Santa Fe. Santa Fe Cameron, named for the place of her birth, was the child of a Spanish mother and a Scotch father and inherited from both a high degree of psychic perceptivity. Natanay, an American Indian, saw this and gave the little orphan a turquoise amulet as a keepsake; this turquoise, the Indian symbol of the spirit, dominates her life.For Santa Fe Cameron, life is made up of violent contrasts: the rough wagon of the gay young Irish medicine vendor who brings her East and the scented hansom cabs and carriages waiting before her own Fifth Avenue mansion; the glittering world of the Astors and a dreary cell in the Tombs. All the color, excitement, and rich period detail which distinguish Anya Seton’s novels are here, together with one of her most unusual heroines.