In April 1775 Abigail Lovell’s family is divided politically―while her father, who has for decades been schoolmaster at the prestigious Latin School, remains loyal to King George III, she and her two brothers engage in undercover activities designed to destabilize the British occupation of Boston. Her sickly older brother, James, operates the patriots’ spy ring, while Abigail acts as a courier, eluding increasingly aggressive British patrols, and her younger brother, Benjamin, slips out of the city to fight alongside Abigail’s love, Ezra, in the battles at Lexington and Concord. With the help of her friend, Rachel Revere, Abigail smuggles money and supplies out to her brother, Ezra, and Rachel’s husband, Paul. But when a British sergeant is found murdered, Abigail stands accused before a military tribunal, and on the eve of the British assault on Bunker Hill she and her brothers plot to influence the outcome of that pivotal battle. In the tradition of The Name of theRose and Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Schoolmaster’s Daughter is the story of a family torn asunder by political strife and a determined young woman who makes courageous sacrifices for the patriot cause at the outbreak of the American Revolution.
"Boston smolders on the eve of the American Revolution in Smolens’s ambitious blend of fiction, history, battlefield romance, and intrigue. Drawing from the real-life Lovell family, with loyalist Boston Latin schoolmaster John and his cipher of a son, James, on opposite sides, Smolens builds his story around Abigail, John’s daughter and James’s sister, forgotten by history but here the unsung heroine of Bunker Hill. . . . In his best passages, Smolens imagines the betrayals, espionage, and collaborations, personal and strategic alliances, and the frequent crossing of lines (not just physical) between the occupying British and the Bostonians they want to control. Abigail herself crosses lines for the cause, joining a roster of historical fiction heroines with feminist leanings toward self-determination, sexual freedom, and altering the course of history."
"In this magnificently researched and absorbing historical novel, Smolens brings to intimate life the first days of the American Revolution as the civil war it actually was, in and around a Boston at once recognizable and yet still thrillingly close to wild nature, with a swampy waterfront with three cave-pocked hills above it, and cows everywhere, not only on the Commons. Smolens gives us a rich sense, not only of how the fight divided private families but also of what surprising alignments it bred inside colonial society, from its selectmen through its watermen and their families, down to its abundant prostitutes. This is a fresh take on the world of Paul Revere, thronged with strong women."
—Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule, winner of the 2010 National Book Award in fiction