Book Review: “The Rebellion of Jane Clarke” by Sally Gunning

August 24, 2010

In this quiet and personal historical coming of age tale, Sally Gunning shows us New England on the brink of revolution through the eyes of a young and slightly rebellious woman. Protagonist Jane Clarke’s domestic issues of justice and truth mirror those making a loud entrance onto the international stage.

Jane, a teenager bred of the bubbling-brook, sea-breeze, sedge-and-sand Massachusetts village of Sawtucket, has a sudden epiphany that her approved betrothed, Phinnie Paine, is not her soulmate. Rejecting his offer of marriage sends Jane’s father into a sputtering rage–Jane is dispatched to mind a crotchety and elderly aunt in Boston, and endures this and the silent treatment from Dad as punishment for her eponymous Rebellion.

Once in the Big City, Jane has all sorts of learning moments and daily encounters with an increasingly incredible number of Real-Life Patriots (John Adams, Henry Knox, et cetera), and unsurprisingly stumbles into witnessing the Boston Massacre.

Granted, the Boston population in the early 1770s was not immense, making such coincidences possible if not plausible. Though the shocking double-cross Jane suffers about two-thirds through the story is a bit hard to swallow, and Jane’s placid femininity borders on the milquetoast at times, there is something to be nice to be had in the details: the informal realities of coupling and marriage; the specifics of domestic routine; the brow-beating and seemingly unlovable father figure.

The book feels as if it is told in a hushed tone, and we never exactly see Jane’s face in full. Instead, we see her sidelit profile as she is dazzled by the immensity of the impending American Revolution.

LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program

My many thanks again to LibraryThing for their Early Reviewer program, as well as William Morrow Publishing. The Rebellion of Jane Clarke was released in the United States in June, 2010.

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program

3.5 stars
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