©2008 Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A beautifully crafted debut historical work that is at once a tender love story, a murder mystery, and a brilliant sociological and political portrait of a turbulent time." (Library Journal (starred review and Editor's Pick)
This novel started out with two fascinating characters: Stewart Jameson, a Scottish "face-painter" and escapee from debtors' prison who had made his way across the Atlantic; and Fannie Easton, a disgraced young woman from a well-to-do Boston family who, disguised as a boy, becomes Jameson's apprentice. The descriptions of colonial life and the pre-revolutionary politics were also intriguing, as was the murder mystery that ensues. But unfortunately, about 2/3 of the way through, the authors allowed their novel to descend into drek. A love story is to be expected in a historical novel, as well as the few obligatory passion scenes. But the last third focused on little but detailed sex scenes. We had to watch Fannie and Jamie going at it in every room, on every floor, against every wall, and on every piece of furniture in the house, in all its variations. Even what should have been a tender parting scene ends up with Jamie dragging Fannie into a stairwell for some "back-door" action. This was especially creepy after reading that the co-authors wrote the book by flashing emails back and forth; it was almost as if they were playing a game of "Can You Top This?" or, worse still, trying to get each other going. I'm no prude (I even liked On Chesil Beach), I just hate it when the sex is both unecessary to the story and obviously thrown in for mere titillation. The authors, two noted historians, certainly had more to offer us.
The narration is wonderful and as others have noted the characters are interesting, the historical details are fleshed out well but about half way through the book, I realized that this is a romance novel of the steamy sort...not my choice for listening. I don't think many can write sex scenes without appearing cliche & laughable. I finally got fed up and deleted the book before finishing.
I wished I had read Deborah's review before purchasing.
yes - without the accent and humor of John Lee the story just wouldn't be the same.
The surprising love story
John Lee has a scottish(?) brogue that adds so much to his character, he reads the story as if it was actually happening at that moment. His accent draws you in and you can literally feel the passion building between the characters.
This has become one of my favorite books to listen to.
This is great historical fiction, evoking Boston on the brink of revolt through plot and carefully wrought detail while also telling a well-plotted tale. John Lee is always a pleasure to listen to as well.
This historically accurate novel (written by two eminent historians of the colonial era) is fast-paced and interesting. It really takes the listener back to colonial Boston. We feel we are there--exactly what a good historical novel should do. The two narrators (actors, really) are nothing short of superb! This is the best produced audiobook I have ever heard. My only complaint, and this has nothing to do with the audiobook version but has to do with the novel itself, is the amount of time devoted to the sexual relationship between the two protagonists in the second half. It's as if the authors have just discovered sex and can't put enough of it into the story. It really does get old after a while. But, having said that--and it is my only criticism--this is a fine novel and a joy to listen to. Time flies while the narrators spin this story. It would make a great book to listen to if you have a really long drive!
I'm finally writing this review, after listening to it for the third time.
How to explain how much I loved this book? As an artist myself, the fact that they have historically accurate painters tools, techniques, and perceptions was amazing.
The voice actors who did the reading are a joy. It's lovely having a man and a woman reading the parts, and the fluidity of their accents and demeanors makes it easy to tell who's "speaking," even when one actor is reading the part of the other character.
A few of the others reviewers here were not as enthralled by the plotline. Well, let me set that straight. It's a historical romance (set in America, not England or Scotland, which was a real treat in-and-of-itself), there is cross-dressing (the female lead passes as a boy through much of the story), and there is a good deal of loving, sex positive scenes later in the book as the characters work out their issues. Yes, there are misunderstandings, yes there are awkward moments, no, it isn't all happy-fluffy-bunnies. Pretty much like life.
This won't be the kind of story for everyone, I'll grant that, but for someone wanting a humorous (yes, a laugh out loud in public hilarious) story that's worth listening to again and again, this story will be well worth your trouble.
Thank you Kamensky and Lepore for writing such a delightful tale, and for Lee and Campbell for bringing it to life.
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