Our Own Country

Written by Jodi Daynard
Review by Jeanne Greene

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1772. Eliza Boylston, daughter of a prosperous merchant and his ambitious wife, is anticipating a 16th birthday surrounded by her loving family. Unlike her serious sister and brother, Eliza, optimistic and trusting, is oblivious to her parents’ failings and the political tumult in the Boston area.

Within months, the party is cancelled and Eliza’s innocence is shattered by a series of events. Each one – the sale of a beloved slave, sexual assault by a “young gentleman,” her sister’s death, brother Jeb’s rebellion, her parents’ cruel selfishness – undermines her sense of security. By the time war forces Eliza to take refuge among inland radicals like John and Abigail Adams, she has become a different person. Lonely, afraid, but with a courage based on convictions, Eliza falls in love with the rebel cause – and with John Watkins, a courageous slave who supports it. But slavery remains legal, even in the new republic, forcing John and Eliza to embark on another leg of their journey to safety.

Our Own Country is book two of Daynard’s Midwife Trilogy, after The Midwife’s Revolt (2015), in which Eliza is a minor character. Daynard’s novels are well-written and carefully researched and, by following a young woman’s search for independence, she puts a personal face on political revolution. Readers can look forward to book three in 2017.