If you are looking for espionage tied into history with a dash of romance, then The Messenger by Siri Mitchell is a must-read!
Mitchell creates the character of Hannah Sunderland, a Friend (or Quaker), who finds herself divided between her church’s neutral stance on the Revolutionary War and her twin brother’s imprisonment from fighting for justice. Although instructed by “the Meeting” to stay away from the prisoners, Hannah finds herself bending the “rules” to help her brother, whom she finds sick and starving as a result of the jail keeper’s cruel treatment. Distressed and helpless, Hannah can’t go to her family for help, so where can she turn to save her brother’s life and the lives of his fellow prisoners?
Jeremiah Jones is nothing like Hannah Sunderland. Left with only one arm after fighting a band of Indians, Jones has turned to a life as a spy, passing messages to and from General George Washington. But when his contact decides to abandon the cause, Jones is left in charge of figuring out a way to help the prisoners to escape. As the owner of one of the local taverns, Jeremiah has firsthand access to the king’s soldiers, who easily share information with him as he serves them more drinks. The life he has led has only pushed him farther from God, and he sees no value in believing as the Quakers do.
As Jeremiah spends his time evaluating a way to get into the jail that has forbidden visitors, he notices Hannah doing the same. With no one else to ask, Jeremiah finds himself drafting a “Friend” to be a spy, and she refuses to lie while doing it! With truth as her weapon, Hannah finds herself questioning her beliefs and finding a God she never really knew.
Can a godless, armless ex-soldier and an honest Quaker woman save the lives of the colonial soldiers, and can two unlikely hearts entwine as one?
Mitchell uses real situations and people to bring her story to life – sharing the true story of how some soldiers escaped and using the influence of some of the women and Quakers who influenced that era. While the two main characters are fictitious, she uses real-life characters to fill in the rest of the story.
Mitchell’s point of view in the story is also unique. Using the first person, Mitchell switches back and forth in each chapter, portraying first Jeremiah’s voice and then Hannah’s. While many would find this difficult or confusing, Mitchell smoothly transitions between the two, giving the reader clear guidance on who is speaking.
This story is excellently researched and paints a vivid picture of the true events that happened during the Revolutionary War. While there are obvious evidences of a budding romance, Mitchell stays true to her characters and does not add feelings or actions to make the romance more “readable” than would have actually been true during that time.
With mystery, romance, and history mixed into one novel, this book is a must-read for any book lover!