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In her book, Maria, second book in the Florida Trilogy, prolific author of historical fiction novels, Eugenia Price (1916-1006), vividly describes life in St. Augustine beginning in the British Period.
Maria is based on the story of Mary Evans who arrived in St. Augustine as Mary Evans Fenwick after she and her husband, a British soldier, relocated from Cuba to St. Augustine shortly after the British acquired the garrison town from Spain in 1763. The story follows her throughout her marriage to three husbands, the second of which was Joseph Peavett, with whom she lived in the Oldest House, where she continued to live after his death. The book describes her challenges, resourcefulness and increasing influence in a growing St. Augustine during the almost three decades she lived in St. Augustine. It thrusts readers into Maria’s world and life in St. Augustine during the changing occupations.
Among Price’s considerable followers, her descriptions of the real places Maria lived and frequented created a fascination with St. Augustine. Many of her readers visit St. Augustine on a mission to find and visit places described in the book. For Price devotees, The Oldest House is a popular destination.
Although Eugenie Price’s books are known for their romanticized approach to a story in which the main characters face passion, reverses and triumphs, her thorough research and attention to historical accuracy were well-known. To write Maria, Price spent time poring through St. Augustine archives and talking to historians. She found a wealth of material at the Oldest House and St. Augustine Historical Society, which owns, preserves and manages the Oldest House.
The books of the Florida Trilogy and other interesting books about St. Augustine and old Florida in the Oldest House Gift Shop are a great way to learn more about the Ancient City.