Amazing in so many ways! I am continually astounded, when I read historical fiction at this level of poignancy, at the bravery and courage of our forefathers (and daughters) as they blazed a trail for the many freedoms that we so casually enjoy. "The Courier of Caswell Hall" exemplifies these "patriots" who, even though it cost them dearly, stood for the right to govern themselves by the rule of democratic law.
Lydia Caswell, daughter of a wealthy Virginia tobacco plantation owner must decide; will she trade Loyalist complacency for a legacy of freedom? Her decision may have been cemented when she risked her own life to nurse a severely injured Patriot spy, found along the banks of the James River at the edge of her family's property, back to health. Her own family has been splintered; her grandfather "tarred and feathered", her brother missing, her father staunchly Loyalist, her mother avoiding conflict and her sister, an incessant flirt with any man wearing a red coat. Her thought-to-be fianc was banished from their home by her father, and her best friend has been shunned for her political views.
Nathan changes everything. When he persuades Lydia to participate in his covert activities, life as they once knew it; dangerously tilts.
Melanie Dobson has woven yet another outstanding tapestry of historical fiction; with characters so real in nature that I read her notes at the end of the book several times to convince myself that Lydia and Nathan were just figments of her imagination and a great deal of research.
An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.
As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.
One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages -- a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.
As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.
About the American Tapestriesâ„¢ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series.
The last thing Lydia was expecting when she snuck off to admire British ships in the moonlight was a man. But find him she did, and with her discovery, an entire network of spies, couriers, coded messages, disguises, and operatives. The secret network may be the only thing that wins the war, but Lydia's allegiance lies - by association with her family - with the crown.
Lydia's wavering allegiance to the crown made the story for me. Her uncertainty between what she was told was right and then her startling belief to the contrary got my attention and kept it throughout the entire book. Danger, action, suspense, forbidden romance, and espionage run rampant through the book, and whether or not this genre is your cup of tea - it was a very enjoyable book to read and a perfect recipe for a relaxing evening.
This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review.
Melanie Dobson has eloquently written an emotive story of fictional characters immersed in accurate facts of America history. Imagining myself living in Virginia during the 1780's, was easy to comprehend how confusing one's choice of loyal political stance would be. Identifying to any party publically could mean the difference in one's life or death, and possible seizure or destruction of the home and properties that were God's blessings. Lydia Caswell's family are staunch Loyalists, but as in any war, all involved are absorbed in winning the peace; or - solely control.
Insecurity of what the future held_.and trust of others, including friends, was always in doubt. This story is of great intrigue about strong characters who believed in what they were doing. It had humor which is always an indication of skilled writing to lighten chapters full of pain and anguish. Romance was not lacking, nor the longing and prayers of hope for those loved ones who left home to fight to return alive. Not knowing where family members were or what might have happened to them was a haunt to all for years at a time. Melanie Dobson is indeed an intricate weaver of several stories intermingled like puzzle pieces that paint a vivid picture when all the pieces come together. The espionage plot is well planned and created an attention-grabbing page turner for this reader.
The women characters in this story about factual jeopardy made me proud of my gender. Each one beautiful in their unique personalities - sensitive, afraid and yet fearless, tender, smart and even little sister was likeable in her own way. Ms Dobson has given each character, male or female, a unique personality quite fitting to that time era - all believable. Most importantly, redemption, reconciliation and belief in the freedom to worship God was shown with such conviction, that only a true believer in our Lord could have written these words to so glorify Him that blesses all. Most of the characters had a relationship with the Lord, and the decision was left open to those that professed no belief.
You might note that I didn't mention actual names or situations in this review. It would be hard to tell you about one person, one situation_.without leading into another. Ms Dobson has written a supreme story with a firm foundation of history that takes you into Caswell Hall as a guest watching the action as though in a movie theatre. Even the music can be heard and the tension felt - a real experience! Yes, I felt this story emotionally and hope you will get The Courier of Caswell Hall to meet all these characters yourself. You will be giving the compliments to Melanie Dobson and the glory to God.
The Courier of Caswell Hall is a touching story of romance and sacrifice set against the backdrop of the American Revolution. It provides an intriguing look at the kinds of personal struggles and difficult decisions families and individuals were forced to make at that crucial time in our country's history.
Historical fiction is a genre that I am coming to enjoy more and more, and this was my first journey into this particular time period. The history lesson woven into such a compelling story filled with rich characters made for a very enjoyable read. This is the first book I've read by Melanie Dobson, but I hope it will not be my last. She hooked me from the very beginning with a touching prologue that gently invited me into the story of Lydia and Nathan. The twists and turns of so many joys and sorrows held my interest to the last page.
Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Standalone novel The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson is the fifth book in the American Tapestries line, a series that sets romance against the backdrop of epic moments in American history. This is an extremely well-written and moving novel, one that I highly recommend.
I've enjoyed books by Melanie before, so I was expecting this to be another great read, but I was surprised at the depth of characterization, historical detail, and emotion found within its pages. The Courier of Caswell Hall is an interesting and moving read that captured and held my attention from the first page, but it's not a light read. Yes, it's a beautiful and touching romance, but Nathan and Lydia's love story is secondary to the themes of divided loyalties, courage, deceit, sacrifice, and the realities of war.
The story opens with a prologue that sets up all that happened 45 years earlier, beginning in 1781 on the banks of the James River and the Caswell Plantation, when Lydia risks all to rescue an injured Patriot courier who will only reveal his first name, Nathan. Lydia knows that "right and wrong can be muddied during a war" . . . and Nathan sees Lydia as "a beautiful young woman with a penchant to heal what had been destroyed and to help those who had been wounded."
Melanie brings women's roles during the war to the forefront through the courageous actions of Lydia and Sarah. Though the methods associated with their spying might seem rather innocent - listening to conversations, memorizing details, retrieving notes from behind bricks and passing them through the exchange of books - the penalty if caught was unthinkable.
It was a time when, rather than people being united against a common enemy, families and neighbors were divided and no one knew who to trust. Lydia's brother, Grayson, realized that the British "had no love of freedom, no hope for the future; they just wanted to stop those who did."
And freedom certainly had different meanings, depending which side you were on. Men like Nathan, who refused to ever use slaves, were rare at this time. The Patriots fought to be free from a king's tyranny, while keeping slaves in submission - and the British granted freedom to slaves willing to fight with them, while denying Americans theirs. Nathan reflected: "It was a strange world. The Americans purported freedom for some men while the British talked only of freedom for the Negro slaves."
In The Courier of Caswell Hall, Melanie has created a superb blend of rich characterization, great storytelling, and historical detail. This is a moving story that I highly recommend to all readers.
This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Summerside Press in exchange for my honest review.