The Schoolmaster’s Daughter

Written by John Smolens
Review by Jane Kessler

This story, an action-packed, superbly written piece of historical fiction, takes place in Boston and covers the two months from Paul Revere’s ride on April 18, 1775, to warn that the British were planning a raid on Concord, to the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.

The author fills in the details between known facts to create a story about a real family, that of John Lovell, the schoolmaster of the Latin School and an ardent Loyalist. Events are seen through the eyes of Abigail Lovell, John’s daughter, who is beautiful, intelligent, and courageous. Unfortunately for John, his children are all on the side of the patriots. His son James is involved with the Sons of Liberty with Dr. Joseph Warren, his son Benjamin acts as a courier for the patriots, and his daughter Abigail assists both her brothers in their activities.

Naturally, this causes friction in the family and adds to the difficulty of living in a Boston occupied by British soldiers. In addition, Abigail’s beloved, Ezra, has disappeared, her brother James is ill, and her brother Benjamin goes missing for days at a time. Things really become tense when a British soldier is murdered, and suspicion falls on Abigail.

I felt totally absorbed in the period and these people’s lives as I read, and the conclusion is satisfying, although poignant. I’m looking forward to reading Smolens’s other work of historical fiction, The Anarchist.