Gun Ball Hill
In 1774 coastal Maine, after the beloved Mowlan family is massacred by Tories disguised as Indians, family and friends gather to mourn. Their isolated lives disrupted, they finally wake up to British cruelty, oppression through taxes, and suffocating restrictions on the export of Maine goods. Each person sees the impending war in a different way. Winnie Goodridge, a longtime friend of the family, masks her anger by insisting on a foundry being built on the hill behind the Mowlan farm. She wants to produce gun balls to destroy the British fleet. Jossey Avens, sister of the murdered farmwife, is devastated and can barely function, but still dreads the thought of war. Her husband John, a minister, loses his belief in religion, deserts his ministry and helps at the foundry. Jossey’s brother, Patrick, a rum runner, struggles to overcome his distaste for killing and his attraction to a woman who has left her Tory family because of the murders. Patrick’s boat outfitted with cannon, he chases British frigates along the coast.
Cooney’s prose is lively and often surprising. Each character is fleshed out, earthy, and full of quirks. The major events of the time are woven into the story with ease. I enjoyed reading about these ordinary people grappling with terrible changes in their lives.