Monday, December 1, 2008

The Whiskey Rebels

In his first work of American historical fiction, David Liss also for the first time uses dual first person narrators. Ethan Saunders is a former Revolutionary War spy, disgraced after a false accusation. One of Alexander Hamilton's agents who is attempting to locate the missing Mr. Pearson approaches him; Mrs. Pearson was engaged to Saunders before his disgrace, and she has turned to him for help.

Joan Maycott and her husband move to the western Pennsylvania frontier. Their success with new developments in whiskey making attracts dangerous attention.

Like all of David Liss' work, The Whiskey Rebels gives a detailed picture of its world, in this case the events leading up to the Whiskey Rebellion. His principal characters live on the edges of their society and yet come across as authentic examples of people who could have lived. In spite of how detailed a history lesson it is, the action and twists keep coming until the last chapter.

There are details on which it could be improved. Each of Joan's chapters is labeled as to when it is set. Ethan's chapters follow each other more immediately; however it would have been nice to be told when his narrative begins. The reader can only guess based on roughly how long it has been since the war ended and what historical events have happened until Joan appears. There was also something I thought was suggested shortly after Joan reached the Pennsylvania frontier, which was never followed up. Now I do not know if I am reading too much into things or if Liss intended for the reader to understand, but not Joan.

All in all I strongly suggest this book to fans of Liss's other work, fans of historical fiction in general, and those interested in the early years after the Constitution.

1 comment:

Lisa R. said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I really enjoy historical fiction.

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