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The Revolutionary War is raging. Food and firewood are scarce, and Tempe Wick is worried that she will not be able to care for her ailing mother and her family and still maintain the farm. Her ability to hold on to her world is threatened when a mutinous soldier demands that she lend him her beloved horse in exchange for keeping her brother’s rum-smuggling activities secret from the authorities. This dramatic historical novel is based on a real event that has been popularized into American legend.
About the Author
ANN RINALDI is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. A self-made writer and newspaper columnist for twenty-one years, Ms. Rinaldi attributes her interest in history to her son, who enlisted her to take part in historical reenactments up and down the East Coast. She lives with her husband in central New Jersey.
Reading Group Guide
1. Civil wars divide families. How has it divided the families in this story?
2. Abraham tells Mary that compromise is a necessary commodity, but not all the characters agree. How do Mary, Tempe, and General Wayne feel about compromise? How do you feel about it? When should you compromise, and when should you stand firm?
3. What does Mary mean when she says that everyone is part and parcel of the whole of their life experiences? In what ways have your life experiences determined who you are now?
4. Mary tells Henry, "Sometimes it helps to air old ills in the sunlight." What does she mean?
5. Tempe believes that a person's motives do not matter as much as their actions. Do you think one is more important than the other? Why?
6. In what ways might Henry's living as a lunatic make his life easier? Harder?
7. Abraham advises Mary that "those closest to the problem cannot see the solution." Do you think this is true? Who can you turn to when you have a problem?
8. In his letter to Mary, Abraham says, "I choose to look at the past fondly and to the future with hope." Why might he choose to see things this way? How should he handle his unhappy memories?
Copyright (c) 2003. Published in the U.S. by Harcourt, Inc.