I worked with Dave Donelson years ago, long before he wrote his first novel, Heart of Diamonds.  His connection with the media business is apparent in the development of the story and principal characters in his book.  This is the type of novel that you may pick up now knowing what to expect, with no national reviews and no best seller listing.   Had the author not handed me this book on a chance meeting, it would likely have not come to my attention.  I am glad that it did!

Here is the list of ingredients for this extremely fast paced thriller!  A beautiful female network reporter who is passed over for the coveted anchor chair, complicated by the fact that she is the girl friend of the network’s Washington News Bureau Chief.   A war-torn African Republic of the Congo ruled by your typical despot. A young and handsome doctor who has eschewed a prestigious NYC hospital assignment for a clinic serving the malnourished who are also victims of the violence among the warring Congo factions. A diamond mine in the Congo owned by a famous television evangelist who is a public supporter of the President of the United States, and who through an elaborate scheme, is skimming the diamond mine’s profits  without the knowledge of his partner,  the despotic president of the Congo Republic!

You guessed correctly if you placed Valeria Grey, seeking a big story to offset her disappointment over losing the anchor chair to a male talking head, literally in the middle of  this complex mix of violence, subterfuge, death, and high stakes potential political fall-out. Could the President of the United States be so foolish as to become involved in the scheme?  It certainly becomes a life and death struggle for Valerie Grey and those who seek to support her exposing this incredible blockbuster story!

As I referenced earlier, Heart of Diamonds was a surprise which I opened and completed in a day and a half. Alarmingly insightful and an enjoyable page turner indeed!


The republishing of the prodigious historical novels of Anya Seton in the first decade of this century brings to light the treasure trove encompassed in her work.

Winthrop Women, first published in 1958 and later released in 2006 is a particular gift for those whose interests lie in the history of the Puritans, the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the early settlement of the environs of Greenwich, Connecticut.  Above all, it is a great love story and the saga of a strong and independent woman richly entwined in the region’s history.

Winthrop Women  embraces a broad  historical web, set in the 1600s (1617-1655)  centered around the family of  John Winthrop, a fanatical practitioner of the Puritan faith  who became the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and his rebellious niece and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Fons. Their descendents  remain in Connecticut and  throughout New England.  Seton tells the Winthrop family and  Elizabeth Fons’  story in three parts: The early years in England living a near aristocratic lifestyle; the great Puritan migration to the New World with the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony;  Elizabeth’s  banishment from Massachusetts and her emergence in Greenwich, Connecticut with husbands (correct) , lovers and children joining in the journey!

Anya Seton’s story of Elizabeth is written in ” high-definition.”  From childhood, “Bess”  is of independent thought and passionate in her views. She was born on a collision course with the beliefs of her Puritan elders, especially John  Winthrop.  Long before boarding the ship Lyon for the journey to  the New World, this child of luxury and  high social status had established herself as the Fons’ and Winthrop family non-conformist.

Proudly leading his flock beneath the banner of religious freedom to the colonies in New England,  far away from the dictates of King Charles, Cromwell and the ruling British establishment, John Winthrop becomes a  zealot and religious tyrant, ruling over his domain, with a wrathful “God” as his enforcer.

Elizabeth’s ever complicated life, saturated with her passion for men and her non-conformist beliefs, provides the framework for an abundant tableau of what life and love was like in 1630s New England. The drudgery of daily survival, the absence of  luxuries, disease and Indians both friend and foe. Foremost, the woman’s role of being, above all, a necessary  “good breeder,” upon which the future of the faith and the colony itself depended!

Elizabeth, having fallen in love with John Winthrop’s son, her cousin Henry, became pregnant and was hastily married before leaving England!  Henry, a kindred free spirit was not traveling with Elizabeth on the ship Lyon but was under his father’s supervision on the Arabella. Elizabeth learned  upon her arrival in Massachusetts that Henry had drowned in a boating accident upon landing. There would be two more husbands and many children, living and still-born before her story concludes thirty years later.

During a brief period when Winthrop had been ousted as Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor, the community rose up against Elizabeth’s behavior with rumors and  speculation that she and her Indian servant Telaka  were possessed by the devil. The outcry became witchcraft! Banishment from the colony, the final solution in those days short of hanging, saw Elizabeth, her family and Telaka ( whom Elizabeth had rescued from a slave auction) on their way to Greenwich where under Dutch law there was greater respect for individual freedom and religious beliefs. This novel is so wonderfully written and researched  that of course, Telaka, had ended up in Boston only after being kidnapped from her tribe, the Siwanoy Indians who populated the area in and around Greenwich! A homecoming for Telaka and a new most welcoming home for Elizabeth, her husband and brood?  Not quite that simple!

In the Greenwich chapters you will walk with Elizabeth on the white beaches of  Monakewago ( Tods Point), follow the Mianus River, witness the massacre of over 1000 Siwanoy Indians ( Telaka’s family) in what is today Cos Cob. There will be yet another husband and more “breeding, ”  and another banishment with the loss of thousands of acres of land that today encompass the entire Town of Greenwich.

History is taught in many ways and Seton is deserving of  high praise both as a novelist and historian for Winthrop Women.  Seton wrote Winthrop Women while living in Old Greenwich, Connecticut where she died in 1990 at age 86. She is buried there in Putnam cemetery.

Other highly acclaimed novels by Anya Seton  include, Foxfire ( 1950),  Katherine (1954),  The Mistletoe and the Sword (1956).