Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Shadow Patriots by Lucia St.Clair Robson

Post Reply
User avatar
Leyland
Bibliophile
Posts: 1042
Joined: August 2008
Location: Travelers Rest SC

Shadow Patriots by Lucia St.Clair Robson

Post by Leyland » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 4:27 am

Shadow Patriots is another fine novel from Lucia St. Clair Robson and includes the everyday period detail in this fictionalized telling of the Culper Spy Ring's activities during the American Revolution that keeps me coming back for more of her excellent storytelling skill.

The setting of the novel is primarily in Philadelphia beginning in June 1776 and continues in Manhattan and the surrounding New York/New Jersey countryside until the early 1780’s as the novel follows the lives of three main characters. In 1776, Kate Darby and her brother Seth are teenaged (14 and 17) children of a prosperous Quaker merchant. Although timid Kate adheres to Quaker pacifist values, her fiery younger brother can’t abide the injustices being imposed on his close friends and fellow patriots. He goes against the Friends and joins the patriot army, spending his first months wintering in Valley Forge. Kate discovers his location and brings supplies to him whenever she is able which opens her eyes to the dire conditions of the intensely patriotic soldiers – those that refuse to be ‘sunshine patriots’ who only join the cause when the army’s living conditions are less harsh. Her Philadelphia town life brings her into close and daily contact with the magnetic John Andre and other British officers billeted in her home and around town.

Kate must eventually flee to New York and takes refuge with her mother and servants Cook and Lizzie in the home of one of the staunchest Tory families in Lower Manhattan. The remarkable hardships she endures during her flight do not defeat her spirit. Kate continues to maintain close contact with Major John Andre who is now posted in NY and she begins to use her proximity to the officers to supply British military information to the patriot cause.

Meanwhile her brother Seth survives and thrives as a patriot soldier and uses his ability to blend with Tories to the benefit of the cause. The teenager becomes a rugged man hardened by war and circumstances that are shared by many brave soldiers and their wives and loved ones on both sides of the conflict. Seth and Lizzie’s love and support for one another is a strong thread that keeps all the main characters tightly drawn to one another through horrendous events.

Another young Quaker named Robert Townsend becomes entangled over the years in the lives of the Darby siblings as they become spies and ‘intelligensers’ for General George Washington and his aides. History now knows Townsend as a leader in the Culper Spy Ring, and in this novel Kate Darby becomes the famous ‘355’, the spy ring’s code for a lady. In reality, 355’s identity has never been proved though much speculation has been made that she must have been well connected and well known to Major Andre. Benedict and Peggy Arnold are supporting characters, as well as several other well known Revolution era persons.

Ms. Robson’s writing style employing a down to earth, mildly vulgar in the historical context and wry sense of humor for many of her superbly created characters really delights me. I think colonial folks must really have lived and loved just like she tells it. Her descriptions of the daily lives of all classes of colonial characters is excellently detailed and is used in just the right amount as to tell a seamless tale so that I rarely feel bogged down.

I wish I hadn’t gone searching online for info about the Culper Spy Ring halfway through the story though. I hadn’t known about its existence prior to reading the novel and I discovered information that ruined the end of the story for me, so readers beware!
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams ~ Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode

User avatar
Telynor
Bibliophile
Posts: 1465
Joined: August 2008
Location: On the Banks of the Hudson

Post by Telynor » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 6:59 am

I have this one on my Mt. TBR. I will resist the urge to peek when I read it.

User avatar
Tanzanite
Bibliophile
Posts: 1963
Joined: August 2008
Location: Northern Virginia
Contact:

Post by Tanzanite » Tue February 3rd, 2009, 6:48 pm

I read this last year and really enjoyed it. I didn't learn about this spy ring in history class and had no idea it existed. After I finished reading the book, I also looked up some information about it online - very interesting stuff. Another great example of learning history through fiction!

Post Reply

Return to “By Author's Last Name R-Z”