The Tory Widow

Written by Christine Blevins
Review by Susanne Dunlap

The widow Anne Merrick, virtually sold into marriage with a much older man, runs a print shop and coffee house in colonial New York on the eve of the Revolution. A Tory because of her late husband’s sympathies, she must bend and sway with the changing fortunes of her city to keep herself and her business intact.

At first keeping to the familiar Tory ways, she attracts the notice of a rebel, Jack Hampton—who burst into her wedding ceremony ten years earlier and gave her an exuberant and thrilling kiss. Now, however they are on opposite sides, as he goes undercover to help the rebel cause when General Howe’s army sends Washington’s rebels into retreat. But as time passes and Anne’s brother enlists in Washington’s army, Anne becomes caught up in the cause and does her own dangerous part in helping the Continental Army.

It’s always a pleasure to read a really well-researched novel that takes you into a period in history in a way that illuminates it, or brings a new perspective to historical events. Blevins has truly mastered her subject matter, with a tone and attention to details of speech and expression that feel authentic and draw the reader into the period and the story.

At its best in the scenes of action and adventure, where pages go by quickly as scenes are brought to life with evocative language and unerring syntax, The Tory Widow starts a little slowly, weighed down by a preponderance of adjectives. But this is a small fault in an otherwise engaging book, with a strong main character and just enough romance.