Primary Resource

Review of To Have and to Hold (April 1900)

In a review published in its April 1900 issue, the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography praises To Have and to Hold, the second novel by Mary Johnston.

Transcription from Original

In her second work, Miss Johnston has given to the world the most stirring and interesting Virginia historical novel ever written, and one of the very best of all America. With a fascinating style and an engrossing plot, she has preserved (what the old school of Virginia historical novels did not do at all) a close adherence to the actual historic and social conditions of the time. There are chapters in her book which would form admirable school reading for classes in Virginia history.

— page 448 —

But what the great majority of modern novel readers wish is a story, and here they will find one where the interest is so strongly held to the end that it is safe to say that no one has ever left the book unfinished. A few critical people may object that there is a somewhat redundant supply of sensational incidents, and that the buccaneer episode is out of place and rather disfigures the book; but notwithstanding these criticisms, they are bound to continue, and will lay "To Have and To Hold" down at the end with the feeling that the authoress is wiser than the critic, and with a strong desire for more from the same pen.

This book has been so generally read and noticed in the press that it is hardly necessary to say that the plot is laid between the periods of the arrival of the "maids" sent to be wives of the colonists in 1619 and the great massacre of 1622.