Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning

Title: The Rebellion of Jane Clarke
Author: Sally Gunning

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Colonial American)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (April 26, 2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Enthusiastic like.
Did I finish?: Yes -- it was very un-put-down-able!
One-sentence summary: A young woman from Cape Cod moves to Boston and receives an education in love, politics, and self-reliance.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes, desperately -- it exactly conveys the setting and feel of the novel. Fabulous!

First line: Jane Clarke stood in the sedge growth on the lip of the dune and looked out over the half-drained bay, the ribbons of sand rising up through the retreating water.

Is...this novel both breezy and meaty?: YES.  Weird, but true.  It reads very easily, with a number of engrossing plots that are tasty and fun and a heroine with some moxie, backbone, and brains.

Did... I have to hit up Wikipedia a few times?: YES, but that's my fault, because apparently I've retained nothing of my education on the American Revolution.  Me and two coworkers couldn't remember why James Otis was significant, other than having an awesome cousin.

Did... I not want to live in Boston in this era?: YES.  The mess, the smells, the stress -- this novel was great at quickly painting and conveying the feel of colonial Boston, and it's not nearly as romantic as in my mind's eye.  Loved this for the grimy reminder of my hometown.

Why did I get this book?: Pretty much, if it involves Boston, I'm there. That it was a historical only meant I was especially desperate to read it!!

Review: I'm a bit at a loss at how to describe this novel -- but in a good way.  Set around 1770 in tumultuous Massachusetts in the months leading up to the Boston Massacre, this novel features a young woman, Jane Clarke, who is sent from her childhood home on the Cape to care for an elderly aunt in Boston.  There, she finds herself struggling to understand the fomenting rebellion in Boston and the reasons her family and friends passionate support or don't support it.

What I most enjoyed about this book -- what I kept pointing out to my wife and friends --
was the very realness of the heroine, Jane Clarke. There's so much more to this novel than just girl-on-the-cusp-of-womanhood as a parallel for the burgeoning American revolution; it felt to me to have some of the same inner turmoil and character development as a good bildungsroman (think Catcher in the Rye, but female, set in colonial America.  Ish).

Unlike many historical novels that feature history as a background character with a hot romance as the star, this novel developed a number of themes that were very thoughtful explored -- and not necessarily neatly resolved.  I found the story and characters moving but not sentimental; the dramatic events Jane experienced were exciting but not cartoonish or over-the-top.  Jane's behavior as an independent woman was very real to me, grounded in and responding to the events around her.  Most of all, I liked her -- and many of the secondary characters.  There's some romance, some mystery, some intrigue, some red herrings, and a very good twist near the end.  (Get it now and read it by the fourth of July to be especially nerdy for your holiday celebration!)

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!  I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Rebellion of Jane Clarke; just comment with an email address to be entered.  US/CA readers only, ends 5/20.  For another chance to enter, please come back on Thursday for my Q&A with the author.


  1. Oh, yay! I've been saving this one to take on the plane this weekend, so I'm glad to see it's unputdownable. I'm fascinated by New England history too, and this one sounds so good. I'll know to have Wikipedia handy too:-)

  2. Oh, I would love to win this book, so please do enter me in your giveaway! You make it sound so irresistible and this :"The mess, the smells, the stress -- this novel was great at quickly painting and conveying the feel of colonial Boston," was the real clincher for me. I am adding this to my wish list, but hope that I win it!


  3. Sounds good :)
    Lol, I look thing up at wiki even though I know them. I just want more and more if I read a book I fall for

  4. Ooh, this sounds like a great read for late June for my book club - I love the idea of tying it in to a 4th of July celebration! That's just the type of thing my club has been looking to do lately.

    I'm glad that you enjoyed the book, that you found the characters to be "real" and that you were intrigued by the story. Thanks for being on the tour!

  5. Ii would LOVE to read this! I'm only recently learning to love historical novels... so this would keep me going in that direction!


  6. This sounds really good! I would love to read this one! Thanks!


  7. Sounds like a great book. =)
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  8. I can tell I would love this one. Sounds great.


  9. I would LOVE this book! Just finished her other one. Lisadeck@gmail.com

  10. Oh, I can't resist - this sounds excellent!

    I am missivemaven
    gmail dot com.

  11. This does sound good; thanks so much for profiling it.

  12. thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  13. This novel sounds fantastic! I have Bound by her on my shelf and want to get to it so bad. I'd love to enter for this one. Thanks!

    darreads (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. i like the sounds of the strong female lead in this one. and the red herrings makes for an interesting read.

  15. This sounds quite compelling! Just recently finished up a bachelor's in History, and am torn between writing and going for my master's....so much for me being an independent woman!

  16. Just found your blog and am 1. envious, and 2. can't wait to read the backlog!
    This book sounds great-- thanks for the review!


  17. Your review is the firsat I've read about this book. It sounds fantastic. Like you, my knowledge of the American Revolution and surrounding time isn't great so an added plus to this book would be learning about that time in America. Jane Clarke also sounds like someone I could identify with, oddly enough, and I definitely want to read her story. Thank you for another great review and giveaway!


  18. I am totally getting into Historical Fiction and this book sound like it would be great to read.

  19. @Jacquelyn - Please leave your email address as your profile is private and doesn't show it!

  20. Sounds really great! It's a shame your giveaways are for US and Canada only, though I understand why!
    I'll definitely try to read this one anyway.

  21. Touloulou - I'm sorry for that - but the publishers ship the books (and thus, make the limits). If gas prices go down soon (and thus postage), I will try to do more international giveaways!