Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins

Flap copy from paperback:
On a bright May day in New York City, Anne Peabody receives an unexpected kiss from a stranger. Bringing news of the repeal of the Stamp Act, Jack Hampton, a member of the Sons of Liberty, abruptly sweeps Anne into his arms, kisses her —and then leaves her to her fate of an arranged marriage…

New York City 1775: Anne, now the Widow Merrick, is struggling to survive in a city on the brink of war. In a time when Loyalists are tarred and feathered, Anne continues her late husband’s business printing Tory propaganda, not because she believes in the cause, but because she needs the money to survive. When her shop is ransacked by the Sons of Liberty, Anne once again comes face to face with Jack Hampton, But he is no longer the optimistic youth she remembers. Despite her better judgement, Anne finds herself drawn to both the ardent patriot and his rebel cause.

As shots ring out at Lexington and war erupts, Anne is faced with a life-altering decision: sit back and watch her world torn apart, or stand and fight for both her country’s independence and her own.

I really wanted to like this book, and it certainly had its moments, but overall I just couldn't get into the story. The best parts were the insights into life in Colonial New York, but the aggravating characters, insipid dialogue, and implausible coincidences made finishing this book a chore. The author's occasional efforts at period speech were stiff and added nothing to this already struggling narrative. The book was way too long, and then ended by setting up the obvious sequel, a tactic I generally find irritating as it undermines any sense of completion in the work. In this case, I was so glad to get to the last page, I didn't even care that much about the foreshadowing, especially as I have no plans to read more about these characters.

All in all, the interactions between Jack and Anne read more like a teenaged romance than a serious work of historical fiction, and I couldn't see any real basis for their "relationship". I can see how this book would translate into a movie script because I suspect the big action scenes would play better on the screen than on the page. All in all, a disappointing read about an interesting period in U.S. history.

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