Rivers of Time is an absorbing historical detective story that starts with just a name, Philippa Prentis Phillips, and a date on a 17th century gravestone in a beautiful, isolated spot on Nevis, the island of Horatio Nelson, Alexander Hamilton and Princess Diana.

In 1985 June Goodfield was shown the gravestone by a gentle Nevisian who owned the land. The words he spoke raised many questions and triggered this quest. For he said "She loved it up here. I come up every day to talk to her and when I die I am going to be buried here too."

Why did he say this of a white woman whose descendants might well have owned his ancestors as slaves. Who was Philippa? And why has she acquired such iconic status that people still trek up to Saddle Hill to talk to her?

Using authentic historical records and living testimony as her guides, the author traced Philippa's elusive trail and uncovered a romantic saga of a dramatic life where tenacious courage and unflagging energy overcame appalling odds. This is an inspiring tale of a dirt-poor English woman and how she came to a live and die in a place as foreign to her as another planet. There, triumphing over danger and adversity, she helped lay the foundations of the present day Caribbean society.

The settlement of the Caribbean is popularly associated with swash-buckling privateers and little is known about the ordinary men and women who first faced the challenges of those earliest years.

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The view from Saddle Hill, Nevis, with Philippa's tombstone in foreground

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Philippa's grave on Saddle Hill