The “blindspot” of this delightful satirical novel of Colonial America was slavery — the ever-present reality underlying the colonists’ increasing distaste for domination by the British King. That blind spot figures in a prominent way in the unfolding of this humorous story.
Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore @@@@ (4 out of 5)
Couched in the language and style of the 18th Century, Blindspot is subtitled “By a Lady in Disguise & a Gentleman in Exile.” The book tells the unlikely tale of Stewart Jameson and Fanny Easton, who find themselves caught up in the chaotic politics of pre-Revolutionary America at its epicenter in Boston as they seek to solve a murder of one of the city’s most prominent men. Major Revolutionary-era figures such as Ben Franklin and Gilbert Stuart appear in thin disguises with bit parts, and others without camouflage of any sort. And a major character, Dr. Ignatius Alexander, billed as “the celebrated African genius,” greatly resembles the historical figure, Mr. Ignatius Sancho, who bore the same distinction in that era. The authors make generous use of the corny dramatic plot devices found in 17th Century literature and on the stage, but it’s all in good fun. Though I felt guilty from time to time at the often sophomoric humor, I enjoyed Blindspot immensely.
Jill Lepore and Jane Kamensky are both accomplished historians. Lepore holds an endowed professorship at Harvard; Kamensky chairs the history department at Brandeis. Their other books are all eminently respectable works of nonfiction. They wrote this book to have fun, and I’m glad they did. I had a great time, too.
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