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Blindspot by Jane Kamensky
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Blindspot (edition 2008)

by Jane Kamensky (Author), Jill Lepore

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2472546,499 (3.72)38
Member:katiekrug
Title:Blindspot
Authors:Jane Kamensky (Author)
Other authors:Jill Lepore
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2008), Hardcover, 512 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:Fiction, historical, 18th c., America, art

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Blindspot by Jane Kamensky

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» See also 38 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
A mixture of history, romance and mystery. I listened to this and I particularly enjoyed the Scottish voice of one of the narrators. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
The eve of the American Revolution serves as the backdrop to this novel, set in Boston and focusing on the story of a Scot transported over to the colonies, Stewart Jameson. We begin with our well meaning hero barely escaping from Scotland with his life and his dog, owing two thousand pounds to some creditors for a debt we soon learn was incurred to pay for the life of his dear friend, Ignatius Alexander.

As Jameson starts to sort his way out in Boston, he finds his painters apprentice in Francis Weston, aka Fanny Easton, the fallen daughter of a justice, Edward Easton. We as the reader know that Weston and Easton are indeed the same person, but poor Jameson is ignorant to the true identity of his apprentice, and what ensues is an amusing story of their beginning together. It seems like a bit of blindness on his part, as Ignatius Alexander does indeed show up, and he seems to be able to figure that riddle out pretty quickly...

To read the rest of my review, please visit my blog. ( )
  dorolerium | Feb 8, 2013 |
Summary: Stewart Jameson flees his debts in his native Scotland, and settles himself in colonial Boston. Jameson is a painter, a portraitist, who has an uncanny knack for capturing not only people's faces but their true selves. He advertises for an apprentice, and on his doorstep lands one Francis Weston - neé Fanny Easton - a young woman who has been cast out by her father, one of the luminaries of Boston politics, and has disguised herself as a boy in order to pursue her love of painting. Politics is much on the mind of the town, as Parliment is increasing taxation on goods to the colonies, and there is a growing sentiment in favor of freedom. But the same people cheering for freedom from Britain are not necessarily in favor of freedom for all, and when a notable anti-slavery advocate is murdered, tensions come to a head. But can Jameson and Weston see the truth of the situation when they can't clearly see what is happening in their own lives?

Review: I had a ton of fun with this book. It's a total mish-mash of a novel, part historical fiction and part romance and part murder mystery; the tone falls somewhere between picaresque, satire, and epistolary. One thing it never is, though, is self-serious: practically every page is full of wordplay and bad puns and bawdy jokes and riddles. Kamensky & Lepore can tone it down when needed, for the more serious and poignant scenes, but I should have known from the fact that the back cover of the book contains blurbs from Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Johnson, and Henry Fielding, among others, that this book was going to be more than a little tongue-in-cheek. And the excellent thing was, that no matter how difficult the mish-mash of story elements and genres makes this book to describe, they are all woven together well, making this book feel full and rich, if occasionally a little overstuffed. (But, y'know, comfortably so.)

The other great thing about this book was how well it brought 1760s Boston to life. Kamensky and Lepore are both professional historians, so perhaps it's no surprise that they got the details right. But they really captured the tone of the time in Stewart's writings and Fanny's letters, not to mention the newspaper articles, pamplets, legislation, etc. that were sprinkled throughout. And, what's more, they caught the tone of the time yet still kept it readable to a modern audience: pretty impressive. There were a few things that I thought were a little anachronistic: Fanny's personality and decisions, for sure, and also some of the wordplay also struck me as rather modern... but on that latter point, based on the authors' note, I think it's my perception of eighteenth century that's wrong, rather than the book. They also do a really nice job of working with their main theme - of looking so hard at one thing that you completely miss something else - and watching the title play itself out on multiple levels was really fascinating.

Overall, this book was by turns funny, sexy, sad, witty, and thought-provoking. But mostly just a total blast to read. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended if you like Revolutionary War-era literature, or historical fiction set in that time frame. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Aug 28, 2012 |
little too saucy for me but very well written ( )
  tribex | Aug 7, 2012 |
This story of love, murder, and slavery in seventeenth century Boston started out well. It deals with some big issues: slavery in the American colonies and women's rights being two of the most important. Both authors are historians, and the notes at the end of the story, the interview with the authors, and the questions for readers all added to the overall reading experience. But...the love story got to be a bit repetitive, and the murder mystery seemed a bit far-fetched and dragged out. I could have done with perhaps a hundred fewer pages. ( )
  Bellettres | Jul 26, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Kamenskyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lepore, Jillmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From the Edinburgh Evening Courant, April 15, 1764. Escaped. The fifth day this month, from the Sheriff of the City of Edinburgh, one Stewart Jameson, face-painter and libertine, on pain of being confined for debt.
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"Written with wit and exuberance by two longtime friends and accomplished historians and set in rebellious Boston on the eve of the American Revolution, Blindspot ingeniously weaves together the stories of Scottish portrait painter and notorious libertine Stewart Jameson and Fanny Easton, a fallen woman from one of Boston's most powerful families who disguises herself as a boy to become Jameson's defiant and seductive apprentice, Francis Weston" -- from publisher's web site.… (more)

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