Today, April 19, marks the anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War. The war was long, lasting over 8 years. Countless lives throughout the colonies were affected by those seemingly endless years of fighting as the new nation came into being. The Revolutionary War years were filled with drama, so it is not surprising how many fiction titles are set during that time. Here are some novels at the library that readers who enjoy historical fiction may want to explore:
“America’s First Daughter” by Stephanie Dray: we’ve heard stories about our Founding Fathers, but what about the rest of their families? Dray’s book offers a fictionalized look into the life of Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph. Patsy was close to her father and served as a stand-in First Lady to her widowed father. Dray’s book, which is based on letters and historical documents, follows Patsy’s journey from Monticello to Paris and ultimately to the White House, and offers insight into the personal sacrifices she made in order to help her father achieve the presidency.
It would be a crime to discuss the Revolutionary War and leave out “The Hamilton Affair” by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman. For those familiar with the musical “Hamilton,” the love affair between Alexander Hamilton and his wife, Eliza is a central part of that story. The novel’s narration alternates between Alexander and Eliza’s perspectives, giving readers a closer look at their courtship and married life. Although it is a romance, plenty of time is also spent in reflection over the formative times they were living through, which should appeal to lovers of historical fiction.
There are many harrowing stories of the men who went to war, but what about the women? Alex Myers’ “Revolutionary” tells the true story of Deborah Sampson, one of the few women who fought in the war. Wanting to escape a life of indentured servitude, Sampson disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Continental Army. The author is a distant relative of Sampson, and his novel explores how Sampson grew into the disguise of Robert Shurtliff to the point that she decided to continue living as a man due to the freedoms and opportunities it afforded her.
Readers who like a little mystery in their stories may want to check out “The Scent of Death” by Andrew Taylor. Working as a representative of the King’s government, Edward Savill is sent to the states to meet up with disgruntled Loyalists. He is soon caught up in a murder that sends him into the dark underbelly of New York City, which is wrapped up in the tumultuous war. Taylor does a fantastic job of capturing the politics of the day as he immerses readers in the time, populating the story with various people who represent the different ideas and beliefs that actually existed during the war. This is a novel of suspense that will also satisfy history buffs.