Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Reading on a Theme: The Revolutionary War

We've got book recommendations today for all of you who have already watched Hamilton 1000 times since it dropped on Disney+ in July, but still need more. 

Wartime Romance:
It doesn't get more obvious that this recommendation. The meeting and marriage of Alexander and Eliza takes place over the course of one song in the musical, but Melissa De La Cruz's book gives the first months of their romance the full treatment. The book begins at the ball where Eliza and Alexander first meet. I really like how this book gives Eliza center stage. She's the type of character you can't help but adore. The book isn't just about romance there's also nursing and spies and dangerous rides through the countryside. I enjoyed Alex & Eliza a lot, and I think it would be a great recommendation for teenage fans of the musical.

Smallpox and the Ethiopian Regiment:
In The Pox Party and The Kingdom on the Waves, M.T. Anderson tells the story of Octavian. In the first volume, Octavian is an enslaved child growing up in a house of science in the years just prior to the American Revolution. He eventually learns that his own physical and mental development is part of the experiments. Volume II begin with Octavian and his tutor Dr. Trefusis fleeing to British-held Boston. From there they make their way to Virginia where Octavian joins up with Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment, organized when Dunmore promises freedom to any slave who fights for the British. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing is such an original and fascinating story.

The Lady Spy:
We know that Agent 355 of George Washington's Culper Spy Ring was "a lady," but we don't know who that lady was. Veronica Rossi's Rebel Spy is a novel that imagines this spy was a girl by the name of Frannie Tasker. Frannie lives a double life. She escaped from her lecherous stepfather in the Bahamas by becoming Emmeline Coates and that transformation allowed her to be accepted into New York Society. But Frannie hasn't forgotten where she came from or her revolutionary ideals. I enjoyed this book. It's got a big big dose of romance, but the set up was really interesting, and Frannie is a fascinating character. Rebel Spy was published June 23, 2020. Review copy from NetGalley. 

The First Sparks:
My Name is Resolute spans most of the 18th century. It begins in 1729 when Resolute Talbot and her siblings watch their parents' Jamaica plantation burn as they are carried off to sea by pirates. The first half of this novel sees Resolute encountering a cross-section of the peoples who inhabited North America in the 18th century. She's enslaved by radical Puritans, captured by Native Americans, and imprisoned in an abbey by Catholics in Montreal. Finally, Resolute settles in Lexington, Massachusetts, and we begin to see the sparks of Revolutionary fervor fly. Resolute is a fantastic character. Nancy Turner tells an expansive and gripping story.

Peggy's Story:
L.M. Elliott's Hamilton and Peggy! is about Peggy, the Schuyler sister who gets the least amount of air time in the musical. Turns out Peggy was a pretty fascinating person. She was the only one of the three now-famous Schuyler sisters who was living at home during the Revolutionary War, where perhaps she might have been privy to some of the work her father did as Washington's spy master. L.M. Elliott's historical fiction is always so well-researched, and she does an excellent job rooting her readers in the historical moment. Peggy is feisty and so bright. It was really fun to get to delve a little deeper into her story.

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