The Rebellion of Jane Clarke

[openbook booknumber=”0061782149″][rating:4/5]

For generations, the Winslow and Clarke families have been feuding over rights to the mill stream, but Jane Clarke has managed to stay removed from the fray. While she doesn’t doubt her father’s claims, she also does not harbor ill will towards the Winslows. Yet Jane cannot remain untouched after someone hacks the ears off Mr. Winslow’s horse. Everyone in Satucket believes Jane’s father is the culprit. Is her father the kind of man who could commit such a horrible act? Suddenly, Jane’s long-held placidity is shattered and her trust shaken. Adding to her distress is Phinnie Paine, the suitor her father wishes her to marry.

When Jane defies her father and refuses Paine’s offer she is sent away to Boston to care for a troublesome aunt. Arriving in the bustling city awash with Redcoats and rebellious fervor, Jane discovers she cannot escape the conflicts defining her life. Father against daughter, Winslow against Clarke, loyalist against rebel-the battles are complicated by her seemingly unbalanced aunt, the unexpectedly kind British soldiers, the townspeople who taunt them, and her beloved brother, a law clerk working for John Adams, who is fervently channeling his own frustrations into acts of sedition.

When Jane witnesses British soldiers kill five colonists on a cold March evening in 1770, she understands she has become engulfed in forces greater than herself, knowledge that forces her to question seeming truths… and face the most difficult choices of her life.

This historical novel takes place on the eve of the American Revolution. Jane is a young woman who lives in a world that is more in flux than she realizes. Families are facing off against families, revolutionaries against loyalists and even father against daughter as Jane questions her father’s beliefs and actions and ultimately decides to not marry the man he has picked out for her.

Otis, at last, removed his eyes from Jane. “All very well, my friend, but I must side with Miss Clarke here. The soldiers in this town have been treated abominably.”
       The table went still.
       Otis went on. “Admit it, Freeman. Mud throwing and name-calling are one thing, but the courts – any flimsy charge against a soldier upheld, outrageous fines put down – criminal! The law must not be conscripted to serve one particular cause. To lost the law is to lose the fight.”
       “With respect, sir,” Nate said, “I say when a people are under an illegal occupation they must fight with what they’ve got to hand.”
       Aunt Gill said, “And what have we got to hand but a few stories in the paper?”
       Jane looked at her aunt in surprise. Another we.
       “We have the people, Aunt,” Nate answered her. “Thirty thousand from all the outlying towns, ready to march at a minute’s notice, and all it takes to call them is a flaming barrel of pitch on the beacon hill.”

This results in her being sent to Boston to care for a sick aunt. While there she realizes things are not quite how they appear in the papers. The story unfolds as Jane rejects how other people tell her how she should think about and feel about the political climate at the time and determines that she will come to her own conclusions.

Because Jane is not falling along party lines in a traditional manner it allows the reader to see things as they truly were in the Colonial era and that includes some of the hypocrisy and imperfect deeds on both sides of the coming war. A lot of the stereotypes and generalizations are discarded for true historical accuracy. The revolution was not perfect. Neither were our fore fathers. It’s a little ridiculous to think that it all was perfect. This book embraces that and yet still gives a great deal of respect and weight to the reasons we went forward with the revolution anyway, warts and all. I appreciated this honesty.

I also loved how the author wrote the book so that the story arc of this one young woman and her personal rebellion and search for truth in the midst of the much greater rebellion going on around her worked so well as an analogy to everything that was happening in the country at that time. Jane was a wonderful, strong character to read about and I was impressed by her determination and fortitude as she stood up for what she believed in throughout even when her number of supporters started to dwindle by the end.

I did find it a little hard to get into the story at first, but by the half way point I was hooked and pulled right through to the end. Fans of historical novels will enjoy this book immensely.

I received this book for free to review.

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