LIBERTY TAVERN by Thomas Fleming


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Liberty Tavern is on the main road between Perth Amboy and Philadelphia. In 1775-1882 you voted there, got your mail there, argued the great debate between England and America there, and got sworn into the service there. Some fifty years later, James Kemble sets down his memories of the tavern's role and of human beings who were not ""demigods"" but heated men as deeply immersed in politics as a hot poker in a rum flip. Fleming stuffs his novel with enough plot to fuel a trilogy. Most of the fighting goes on up north, but in and around Liberty Tavern neighbor turns against neighbor. Jonathan Gifford, the tavern's owner, and his daughter Kate are the central figures. Kate is a novel-reading ninny with an eye for fashion and for charming Cambridge-educated Anthony Skinner. But the real story hinges on her brother Kemble's assassination of a rebel officer. This outright murder is a ""family sin"" which stands for the brutalization the war brings even to the best of men. Still it's the homefeelings of tavern life that come through in the end.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1976
Publisher: Doubleday