Molly Lake in the Quebec Affair

Written by Samuel Endicott
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 1759, 15-year-old Molly Lake and her family, living on a farm near Schenectady, New York, are attacked by Indians led by a Canadian. Her infant brother is killed while her mother is captured. Molly’s father, Peter, decides to travel down to New York, board a ship, and travel by water to Quebec and rescue his wife. Molly demands to go along and, on the road, meets Rhis Nance, an 18-year-old trapper who joins them in their venture. When in New York, they board a British warship, the Pembroke, and Molly must work as a powder monkey, bringing explosives to the gunners. During the journey to Quebec, the Pembroke joins with the fleet of British General Wolfe, who is preparing to sail on to Quebec and capture the city.

Endicott balances a large cast. Rich in historical detail, he blends historical facts with the many characters while using fictional characters to round out the story. This is a long novel, almost 500 pages, and at times the pace can be slow, but the drama and action compelled me to continue turning the pages. Upon arriving in Canada, Molly becomes a translator (Molly can speak French), goes on picket duty, guards the launches when the sailors explore the hillsides near Quebec, becomes a scout and spy behind enemy lines, and learns to play lacrosse against the Indians. Although this is a coming-of-age novel, I found it hard to believe that the British Navy, in 1759, would have a teenage girl provide these services.