Knightengale Books Review

“The novel immediately draws you into 1854 New [York], with its horse-drawn carriages, steamboats, bustling dresses and proper manners…

…Davidson chooses to be descriptive when it comes to historical accuracies, settings and politics... The diary and endnotes are extremely well-documented and thoroughly researched… ”

– by Knightengale Books

Midwest Book Review: “a choice addition to historical fiction…”

“Life in the nineteenth century was so very different to the world as we know it. Prelude, A Novel: & The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe is a unique blend of history, autobiography, and creativity. Author Helen Taylor Davidson draws upon the real-life diary of Adeline Hoe as the source for this involving novel. A fascinating glimpse into everyday life of the period, Prelude, A Novel & The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe is a choice addition to historical fiction and autobiography collections.”

– Midwest Book Review

Three Village Historical Society Review

“…The diary portrays an idyllic time in Stony Brook and Setauket [New York]. In 1854, farming was still the occupation of the majority of residents, shipbuilding was in full swing and the art and music of the period was in full flower…

The novel, which is the first part of the book, is fun to read and will make a good book to take to the beach this summer. The novel takes the facts from the diary and weaves a new story that brings us closer to the Underground Railroad and other activities that led inexorably to the Civil War just seven years later. There are many facts here that relate to the decade of the 1850s and they are woven seamlessly into the story. This gives the reader a good insight into a time period that is often ignored by writers of both fiction and non-fiction…”

– From The Historian, newsletter of the Three Village Historical Society, Setauket, East Setauket and Stony Brook, NY.

Genre Reviews post

“…historical details and the historical notes on the diary were clearly carefully researched and helped to bring the time period alive. Suspense was added in the novel by giving Adeline a romantic interest and providing a secret life of working on the Underground Railroad to her love interest…”

– by Genre Reviews

Historian George W. Martin Review

“Diaries are a tool for history, both for recording events and providing context: showing not only how contemporaries viewed the event but sometimes how opinion began to change. And one such tool for the history of nineteenth-century New York City is The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe.

Miss Hoe . . . later merged two prominent New York families by marrying DeWitt Clinton Lawrence . . . [T]he diarist’s great-granddaughter, Helen Davidson . . . has added to the Diary a useful Foreword on the historical events of 1854 . . . [with] . . . notes [on] the Dodworth family’s brass band, the artist William Sidney Mount, the Hoe family’s ties to the Harper and the Dodd, Mead publishing houses, and on the sinking of the steamship Arctic . . .

In Prelude, Davidson has written a novella sparked by a hint of romance in the Diary. Adeline’s tone often seems to soften when she writes of a Mr. Joe Stewart. Yet little is known of him, leaving Davidson free to imagine what might have been, a fantasy founded in part by Adeline’s later marriage to Mr. Lawrence, about whom good is not always spoken.”

— George W. Martin, Historian and Author of CCB: The Life and Century of Charles C. Burlingham, New York’s First Citizen, 1858–1959