Fascinating new page-turner from Fleming (Conquerers of the Sky, 2003, etc.), following the adventures of an Irish lass who runs away to America in 1865 and tries to help the Fenians conquer Canada.
Bess Fitzmaurice was never really cut out to be a revolutionary. The daughter of a devout Catholic mother and freethinking Protestant father, she grew up in a prosperous and tolerant household that had little use for rebellions or ideology. But when her brother Michael becomes implicated in a failed Fenian uprising, Bess steps in to help him escape to America. Her bravery in slipping Michael and Fenian leader Dan McCaffrey through the fingers of the British wins her renown in the US press, and Bess discovers a strange new world she could never have imagined: Irish veterans of the Civil War, funded by wealthy Irish-Americans, have formed a Fenian Army dedicated to the overthrow of British rule in Ireland. An impossible dream? Not quite. Great Britain is widely reviled for having supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, and prominent politicians of both parties, President Andrew Johnson among them, support the Fenians’ plan to conquer Canada and hold the colony ransom in exchange for Irish independence. Bess turns out to be a very quick study in the rough-and-tumble world of American politics, using her fame as the Fenian girl (and her skills in the boudoir) to cajole, persuade, and coerce both the friends and foes of her cause. But the plan fails disastrously in the end, and her brother dies in the process. Heartsick and disgusted, Bess forswears politics and the Fenians and tries to start a new life under an assumed name. She even falls in love, with a high-minded reforming politician, but their happiness is jeopardized when Dan McCaffrey finds her and threatens to reveal her identity. What was that about the luck of the Irish?
Brings to life a little-known episode of US history, briskly narrated with wit and real suspense.