Turner's (The Star Garden, 2007, etc.) historical novel, set principally in the New World between 1729 and 1781, follows the life of a woman who struggles to control her own destiny and then uses her skills to help found a new country.
Resolute Talbot is a young child when she and her two older siblings are captured by pirates and taken from the family home in Jamaica. Patience, her sister, does whatever is necessary to protect her younger sister and herself, and brother August signs on to become a privateer. Surviving inhumane conditions, illness and harsh treatment, Resolute is stripped of her name, sold as a slave in the New World, taken prisoner by Indians and confined in a Catholic orphanage, where she learns to spin and weave. After years of waiting for the right opportunity, she and Patience escape, but Resolute is left to her own devices on the outskirts of Lexington, Mass. There, her dreams of returning to Jamaica, where she believes her mother awaits her return, are supplanted by the practicalities of everyday living. Resolute inherits property, establishes a business, meets carpenter Cullah MacLammond and weathers the effects of two wars: the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. During difficult political conditions and epidemics that shape Resolute’s family’s and friends’ futures, she proves worthy of her name and uses her skills to assist others. Among her brave acts, she rescues a slave, hides contraband for the Sons of Liberty in her home, volunteers for secret missions, provides sustenance to starving soldiers, and sews cloaks and uniforms for the troops. Throughout the narrative, Turner skillfully keeps her main characters in the forefront and reveals historical events through their eyes and actions rather than by means of long, explanatory passages that stall the plot. The novel is lengthy and somewhat repetitious as so many characters are introduced, disappear and then are reunited multiple times, but the author convincingly conveys a pivotal time in American history and provides a rewarding reading experience.
A fitting story about resiliency, ingenuity and heroism.