On the same day that Anne Peabody is married to a man she could never love in New York City, news arrives that the Stamp Act has been repealed. A young, joyous patriot, Jack Hampton, sweeps her in his arms and kisses her spontaneously, a kiss she never manages to forget. Years later, the Revolutionary War is on, Anne is now the Widow Merrick, and Jack’s joy has hardened. To maintain her livelihood, Anne must continue to print the Loyalist tracts supported by her husband. One night, Jack and several other patriots force their way into her shop and discover what she has been printing; they ruin her press and her books and set Jack to keep watch on her in the new coffeehouse she opens to keep her income. On closer acquaintance with Jack, Anne begins to realize that she must think for herself and assert her own independence just as her country struggles for its own.
I’ve been excited for this book more or less ever since I finished Midwife of the Blue Ridge, the author’s last book. I was even happier when she offered me a review copy of The Tory Widow, which was officially released yesterday. I knew I was in for a good read, and I was even happier when I wasn’t wrong; I do sometimes worry that a second novel won’t match the first, but that thought has no justification here.
This is a historical fiction novel with a strong side of romance. I never mind romance and I really enjoyed the historical part of this book. New York City changes hands several times between Patriots and Loyalists and Anne adapts successfully to each situation. She’s very determined and she improvises ways to keep her business running while remaining faithful to her own beliefs, once she’s established them. Jack is a bit of a scoundrel, but he’s a patriotic scoundrel and I enjoyed watching him warm to Anne and her “supporting cast” of Titus and Sally and vice versa. In particular I enjoyed the variety of supporting characters, like the prostitute Patsy, Anne’s brother David, and Scottish Sally.
I liked the glimpse into historic New York and the book has little maps so we can figure out where Anne’s shop is located and where important scenes occur throughout the book. It’s hard to equate the maps with current New York, but it’s certainly fun trying. I just loved the descriptions of the printing press. I have no idea how an 18th century printing press works and the window into such a profession was fascinating.
Overall, I found this book to be very solid. It’s a good, enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you enjoy historical fiction.
Buy The Tory Widow on Amazon.