Manhattan and the Hudson River Valley, 1778. The British control Manhattan, the Rebels hold West Point, and the Dutch patroons reign in feudal splendor over their vast Hudson River Valley estates. But the roads are ruled by highwaymen. Gerrit Van Haren, the dispossessed heir of Harenwyck, is determined to reclaim his inheritance from his decadent brother, Andries, even if that means turning outlaw and joining forces with the invading British. Until, that is, he waylays the carriage of beautiful young finishing school teacher Anna Winters…
Anna is a committed Rebel with a secret past and a dangerous mission to secure the Hudson Highlands for the Americans. Years ago, she was Annatje, the daughter of a tenant farmer who led an uprising against the corrupt landlords and paid with his life. Since then, Anna has vowed to see the patroon system swept aside along with British rule. But at Harenwyck she discovers that politics and virtue do not always align as she expects…and she must choose between two men with a shared past and conflicting visions of the future.
READERS GUIDE INCLUDED
About the Author
Reading Group Guide
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. The novel has many elements that place it in the Gothic tradition: a remote house; a powerful, landed aristocrat; a heroine separated from her home and family. How does it conform to and defy the conventions established by books like Jane Eyre and Rebecca?
2. What do Anna’s klompen symbolize to Gerrit? Do they mean something different to Anna herself? What do they mean to you?
3. How did you feel about the choices Annatje made to survive after she left Harenwyck?
4. Kate Grey blackmails Anna into traveling to Harenwyck, but Anna acknowledges, if only to herself, a debt owed to the Widow. Do you think Anna made the journey to save herself from exposure as an imposter, or for more complicated reasons?
5. The Widow told Anna that she would make a good teacher, but that it was not a role she could play forever, because of her strong sense of social justice. Was the Widow right?
6. Andries Van Haren has a vision for reforming the patroonship that will provide his tenants with schools, doctors, better roads, and more favorable markets for their goods. Would you choose the security of tenancy under a regime like Andries’, or the independence—and uncertainties—of life as a freeholder?
7. Gerrit resorts to highway robbery to destabilize his brother’s regime. Is he more or less justified than the partisan bandits terrorizing the Hudson River Valley on behalf of the British and Rebel armies?
8. Did Anna really see the ghost of Barbara Fenton in the woods, or was it a hallucination?
9. Barbara Fenton’s tragic romance with her Dutchman serves as a counterpoint to Anna’s happy union with Gerrit. Anna and Gerrit both find meaning in the story. What is it that Anna learns from Barbara’s tale? What is Gerrit’s lesson?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Although this is th 4th book in the Donna Thorland's Renegades of the American Revolution series, it is the first book I have read from this author. I was pleased that I did not have to read the earlier books to fully understand and enjoy this one. It can definitely be read alone. It's a bit of a swashbuckler / spy historical story set in New York in the 18th century and is about the Dutch who helped settle the Hudson Valley in New York -- the patroons and the Dutch West India Company in the Hudson. The author did a fabulous job of intertwining history with a good plot and a touch of romance. The main characters are Annatje Hoppe who is a childhood friend of Gerrit Van Haren who is the true heir of his father's estate and is set on winning it back on his own terms after his brother Andries usurped it. I would classify this novel as a fast-paced romantic historical fiction with plenty of action and intrigue. Nicely done! Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.
Revolutionary War historical fiction seems to be tough for writers, but this one hits all the marks. As good as Thorland's earlier novels, maybe better. The setting -- the Dutch-dominated Hudson Valley -- was really fascinating, and the action, history and interwoven romance really kept me turning the pages.