Blood In The Valley

Written by Jean M. Roberts
Review by Dan Cross

Blood in the Valley begins with a young woman marrying a fine man and leaving her parents’ home to live in Cherry Valley, New York. The reader bonds with Catherine as she and her husband build their home, start a family, and work the land through hot summers and gruelling winters. Through Catherine’s conversations, relationships with her neighbours, and the letters she exchanges with her relatives back in New Hampshire, readers witness her journey from young woman to strong mother.

But this is a story set over many decades, and before long, whispers of rebellion against the British turn to action as war begins. When Catherine’s husband, Samuel Clyde, becomes more involved in the fight for independence, she uses their close partnership to insist he share the news from around the valley and the country. In this way, the reader learns how local events of the novel relate to the wider war, and experiences the tensions of the growing rumours of attack which threaten the peace of their small community.

This historically accurate novel compellingly brings Catherine Clyde and her family to life by marrying known events, letters, and records with believable motivations and desires. By focusing as much on the everyday chores of the household and family gossip as the war effort and impending dangers, the reader connects with Catherine on a personal level. So much so, that every tragedy is felt with heartbreak and every celebration experienced with joy.