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Shadowbrook: A Novel of Love, War, and the Birth of America [Paperback]

Beverly Swerling
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 7 2005
A sweeping tale of love, ambition, and a war that ignited a revolution...
1754. In a low-lying glen in Ohio Country, where both the French and English claim dominion, the first musket ball fired signals the start of a savage seven-year conflict destined to dismantle France's overreaching empire and pave the way for the American Revolution. In a world on the brink of astonishing change are Quentin Hale, the fearless gentleman-turned-scout, fighting to preserve his beloved family plantation, Shadowbrook; Cormac Shea, the part-Irish, part-Indian woodsman with a foot in both worlds; and the beautiful Nicole Crane, who, struggling to reconcile her love for Hale and her calling to the convent, becomes a pawn in the British quest for territory. Moving between the longhouses of the Iroquois and Shadowbrook's elegant rooms, the frontier's virgin forests and the cobbled streets of Québec, Swerling weaves a tale of passion and intrigue, faith and devotion, courage and betrayal. Peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters and historical figures, including a young George Washington, this richly textured novel vividly captures the conflict that opened the eighteenth century and ignited our nation's quest for independence. A classic in the making, Shadowbrook is a page-turning tale of ambition, war, and the transforming power of both love and duty.

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From Publishers Weekly

Swerling's sweeping fictional account of the French and Indian War rivals Harold Coyle's 1997 novel, Savage Wilderness, in its masterful treatment of the hardship, brutality and treachery of America's colonial wars. Covering the years 1754–1760, with the British, French and Indians slaughtering each other for king and empire, Swerling tells of two men who straddle the white and red man's worlds, desperate to preserve the best of each culture, but fearful they will lose everything they love. Quentin Hale is a gentleman turned scout whose family owns a prosperous New York plantation called Shadowbrook. He is white, but also follows the Indian ways of his adopted tribe, the Potawatomi. Cormac Shea is part-Irish and part-Indian, nearly a brother to Hale, but he wants all whites driven from Canada. Together these men find themselves caught up in a bloody war neither wants, but they must fight to save the plantation and create a homeland for the Indians. Hale faces treachery at home from his sadistic and greedy elder brother, John; from a scheming one-eyed Scot; and from lying, corrupt politicians who want to steal his legacy; he also has an Indian enemy who wants to cut out his heart. Hale and Shea fight in many battles, mostly massacres, from Louisbourg and Fort William Henry to the climactic battle at Quebec. Surrounding them are colorful historical figures like the young George Washington, the hapless General Braddock and the powerful Ottawa chief, Pontiac. Swerling also cleverly reveals the arrogant influence of the Catholic Church in politics, the duplicity of governmental promises and the forced migration of Acadians from Nova Scotia. The complexity of the history involved may daunt some readers, but most will be captivated by Swerling's intricate plot, colorful characters and convincing descriptions of colonial life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

After her success in vividly detailing colonial New York in City of Dreams (2001), Swerling turns her attention to mid-eighteenth-century Ohio, where the French and Indian War inflames passions and sparks intrigue in the inhabitants of this richly fertile region. At the center of the story are Quentin Hale, the rebellious younger son of the prosperous Shadowbrook plantation, and Cormac Shea, the son of a Potowatomi woman and an Irish fur trader. Raised together on the plantation, Quent and Corm are caught up in the ever-growing hostilities between the English and^B the French. Underscoring the dramatic tension and fast-paced action is the blood feud brewing between the Shadowbrook heirs and the tender love story evolving between Quentin and Nicole Crane, a beautiful young Frenchwoman who has committed her future to the Poor Clares religious order. This spellbinding historical adventure highlights an often overlooked episode on the road to American independence. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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MISERERE MEI, DEUS . . . Have mercy on me, Lord, according to the greatness of Your mercy. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss This One March 16 2004
By Curious
Format:Hardcover
I won't sketch the plot again as this has already been done above. Several things struck me as I read Shadowbrook. The first was how much popular fiction in the hands of a gifted writer can achieve. The descriptions of those things one can see, the things that might be captured by a cinematographer, are rendered in such beautiful and evocative language that you forget at times you're not watching the big screen. The things one cannot see, the things that must be coaxed from cinematic image with inference, are conjured by Swerling with such skill that the reader thinks, dreams, smells, schemes and feels along with the book's characters. This clean access to the "unseeable" is one of the advantages novels enjoy over film and TV. Ironically it is the element most of today's writers have sacrificed, apparently believing they must do so to emulate the torrid pace of cinema. Swerling has shown that this is an unnecessary sacrifice, at least for a writer as talented as she: Shadowbrook, while rich in its treatment of the "unseeable," moves along at an absolutely breathtaking pace. The depth given by Swerling to her characters and settings leaves you feeling at book's end that you've traveled through time, that you've been places and met people you'll never forget.
I also found refreshing how distant events are viewed from the inside out, i.e. from the vantage point of the characters rather than from a faraway observer smothering us with facts. In Shadowbrook one sees history for what it is: a great human tide that defines us as quickly as we create it.
Finally, I loved the way Swerling shows how our thoughts and actions are shaped by the prism of belief through which we view the world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss This One! March 16 2004
By Curious
Format:Hardcover
I won't sketch the plot again as this has already been done above. Several things struck me as I read Shadowbrook. The first was how much popular fiction in the hands of a gifted writer can achieve. The descriptions of those things one can see, the things that might be captured by a cinematographer, are rendered in such beautiful and evocative language that you forget at times you're not watching the big screen. The things one cannot see, the things that must be coaxed from cinematic image with inference, are conjured by Swerling with such skill that the reader thinks, dreams, smells, schemes and feels along with the book's characters. This clean access to the "unseeable" is one of the advantages novels enjoy over film and TV. Ironically it is the element most of today's writers have sacrificed, apparently believing they must do so to emulate the torrid pace of cinema. Swerling has shown that this is an unnecessary sacrifice, at least for a writer as talented as she: Shadowbrook, while rich in its treatment of the "unseeable," moves along at an absolutely breathtaking pace. The depth given by Swerling to her characters and settings leaves you feeling at book's end that you've traveled through time, that you've been places and met people you'll never forget.
I also found refreshing how distant events are viewed from the inside out, i.e. from the vantage point of the characters rather than from a faraway observer smothering us with facts. In Shadowbrook one sees history for what it is: a great human tide that defines us as quickly as we create it.
Finally, I loved the way Swerling shows how our thoughts and actions are shaped by the prism of belief through which we view the world.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars History springs to life! March 12 2004
Format:Hardcover
In SHADOWBROOK, the North America of the mid eighteenth century springs to life in a riveting, violent, and touching novel. With her meticulous research and fluid style, Beverly Swerling breathes life into some of the most famous figures from the era-George Washington, Chief Pontiac, General Wolfe to name but a few. Moreover, she so effectively conjures up the setting that I could see and smell the wilderness of Ohio and hear the noise from the streets of old Quebec. Her two fictional protagonists-Quentin Hale and Cormac Shea-embody the conflict erupting around them: white versus Indian and English versus French. Shea, part English and part Indian, is a particularly moving character. He dreams of peaceful cohabitation between the Europeans and the "Real People" (an Indian term for their own people) but sees only proof of the opposite in the spiraling bloodshed of the time.
Swerling's brutally frank description of the French and Indian War's battles is at times almost painful to read but it only heightens the book's authenticity and magnifies the suspense. The personal dramas, including a touching love story and a deadly family betrayal, which play out against the backdrop of war make SHADOWBROOK impossible to put down.

Though the French and Indian War clearly sets the foundation for the American revolution, Swerling simultaneously describes the events that led to the eventual foundation of Canada-and her two solitudes of English and French. As a Canadian, I was fascinated to meet the characters whose actions helped shape the destiny and character of my nation.

In SHADOWBROOK, Beverly Swerling reaffirms what her previous novel, CITY OF DREAMS, showed-namely, Swerling is amongst the very best of today's historical fiction writers.
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