We seem to be having an accidental foray into early America. From Philadelphia to Boston, then.
Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore Our story here is told by two separate narrators. The first is a disgraced and indebted Scottish painter by the name of Stewart Jameson. He is fleeing Edinburgh, both the debt collectors and in search of his friend, Ignatius Alexander. Jameson tells us, the Dear Reader, that Alexander is an African-born, British educated doctor, but not how or why they were separated. Jameson hopes both to find his friend and earn the money to repay his debt in Boston. Meanwhile, Fanny Easton writes letters to a former schoolmate telling her plans to escape the Manufactory. She is the daughter of one of a judge, but she was disowned and thrown out of the house after her art tutor impregnated her. Now she has seen Jameson’s advertisement in the paper looking for an apprentice and decides to disguise herself as a boy, Francis Weston, to take the job. Then, Samuel Bradstreet, prominent citizen, revolutionary and early abolitionist is murdered, found dead just after sitting for his portrait. Jameson and Weston are key witnesses. Suspected are Bradstreet’s slaves, whose verbal promise to free them on his death is all the evidence the court really seems to want. But one of the slaves recognizes Fanny and asks for help, and she, as a guilty former owner, feels obliged to help. Early revolutionary and racial politics, intrigue and a whole lot of gender-bending sexual tension make this a fascinating and page-turning historical. The authors are both historians; some notes on the accuracy of the piece are included in book, and more on their website.