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Blindspot (Random House Reader's Circle) [Paperback]

Jane Kamensky , Jill Lepore

RRP: 8.85
Price: 8.64 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

29 Dec 2009 Random House Reader's Circle
Stewart Jameson, a Scottish portrait painter fleeing his debtors in Edinburgh, has washed up on the British Empire's far shores—in the city of Boston, lately seized with the spirit of liberty. Eager to begin anew, he advertises for an apprentice, but the lad who comes knocking is no lad at all. Fanny Easton is a fallen woman from Boston's most prominent family who has disguised herself as a boy to become Jameson's defiant and seductive apprentice.
Written with wit and exuberance by accomplished historians, Blindspot is an affectionate send-up of the best of eighteenth-century fiction. It celebrates the art of the Enlightenment and the passion of the American Revolution by telling stories of ordinary people caught up in an extraordinary time.

Product details

  • Paperback: 529 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; Reprint edition (29 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385526202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385526203
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,870,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  55 reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rolicking romp 2 Jan 2009
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Full disclosure: I am an English teacher and an American history buff (some might say geek) and I ordered this book for three reasons: I enjoyed New York Burning, by one of this book's coauthors, Jill Lepore; I like a nice, racy 18th-century novel; and I was intrigued to learn whether two history professors could team up to write a plausibly entertaining novel in 18th-century style. So I suppose you could say I'm not really the average reader.

Given my predilections, I knew that I would enjoy the book even if it was not so great. Fortunately, it really was tremendous fun and I enjoyed the book even more than I anticipated I would. From my perspective, the book is a lark and can therefore be forgiven some of the shortcomings in weightiness that some other reviewers have objected to. While it touches upon some complex themes from American history (slavery, class, disempowerment of women), the novel does not set out to change the world or even to offer serious food for thought on these issues, which provide a context for the main story line rather than a foundation for it. Rather, the novel is primarily a love story, and this love story, in the best Shakespearian tradition, features cross dressing and mistaken identity. The most enjoyable part of the book is the cat-and-mouse play between the disguised woman and her libertine love interest before her true identity is revealed. Because he swings both ways and she makes a comely lad, he is burning with desire for her even as she lusts after him. Needless to say, this ardent desire is teased out in a number of steamy scenes before climax is finally reached.

Like some other reviewers, I found the unveiling of the solution to the murder mystery to be somewhat strained and the character of the cross-dresser's father to be rather inexplicable. On the whole, though, I was absorbed by the book as I read and will remember the experience fondly. I suppose the book is not for everyone, but if you have a soft spot for 18th-century ribaldry, this novel will not let you down.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 21st century minds, 18th century bodies, 19th century references 17 April 2009
By Scissors - Published on Amazon.com
When I realized that the three main characters in this historical novel set in the 18th century thought and acted like our contemporaries, I thought the scholarly writers were enjoying a deliberately incongruous romp, and romped along with them. But the novel soon becomes tedious, the characters too ungrounded. One character channels Sherlock Holmes, another quotes Bronte, and supposed Puritans quote Shakespeare as a moral authority. Oh, come on, Professors Lepore and Kamensky -- you could do better. Blindspot lacks the rewards of historical fiction -- the sense of visiting another time, or history animated. It yields little sense even of the colonial city where it is set. The detective plot is uncompelling. I dropped out before the murder was solved. I just didn't care. Very disappointing.
48 of 64 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Out Damn'd Blindspot 1 Jan 2009
By Daniel Myers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book serves as an excellent reminder of why academics, secluded in the ivory tower, should stay so secluded and not venture out into the realm of "historical fiction," especially when they do so in tandem with an academic friend from another ivory tower. To indulge in alliteration, Blindspot is a purple pastiche of period pamphleteering. I wonder if these gushing Vine reviewers have read any of the classic authors in this genre of the time: Fielding, Smollett et alia. Their reviews do indeed seem as if they were written by the same "John Puff, Esq." who pays homage to this book on its back cover.

To be more specific, this book is far too long, too predictable, too studiedly purple, and, above all, too coy by more than half to be enjoyable. Also - though I'm not supposed to point the numerous errata out in an ARC, there is one erratum I hope was duly corrected - that of the dog Gulliver's being in two places at once at one point in the narrative. Since Gulliver is apparently based on one author's own dog, one can only hope that she caught this canine violation of the time-space continuum.

What else to say? Oh yes, if you must needs read fiction of this sort, READ THE REAL THING: Tom Jones, The Adventures of Roderick Random, even Shamala (mentioned herein) are far, far more engaging reads then this very silly book. - Two stars, but only because I fully admit to being a sap for anyone who quotes at length one of my favourite thinkers, David Hume.

Now, I shall sit back and wait for the "unhelpful" votes to roll in, probably some spiteful comments too, I shouldn't wonder.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars poor 19 Jan 2009
By Dr. Paul A. Rhoads - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The authors have written a book of the 1700's with all the main characters possessing 21st century mentalities; equality for all races, sexes etc. Although you applaud their stands you find it highly improbable and at times tiring. The mystery aspect is poor, with the villain and murderer being announced far in advance. The writing is excellent but the rest . . .
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Historical Harlequin 20 Dec 2008
By Richard A. Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Through about 100 pages, I thought I was reading what I imagine Harlequin romances to be: overwritten, tedious muck. Then a mystery appeared on the scene and I was carried for about 75 pages, then the Harlequin resumed.

This is billed as an historical novel/romance. The "history" is repetitive, redundant and, amazingly, repeats itself again. We know there was a stamp act, we know there were Bostonians for and against slavery and we know there were Bostonians for and against liberty, and, at times those beliefs hypocritically overlapped. This book lent nothing more to those obvious "historical insights".

The romance portion was as predictable as it was dull. The woman who dresses as a painter's young male apprentice falls in love with the painter and he with her. The only "tension" was when it would be revealed that she was a she. There was no doubt in this formulaic novel that it would happen. Frankly, the one surprise was that the revelation occurred earlier than I expected.

The characters were mundane and also predictable. The supporting cast was all cardboard cut-outs. Very little happens in this book to support 479 pages. The number of pages is indicative of the overwritten droll that took up most of the book. This is a book to be skipped.
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