Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore
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Buy *Blindspot* by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore online

Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore
Spiegel & Grau
512 pages
December 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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If you donít mind slogging through the political philosophy of the 18th century, there is much to recommend this tale of a Scottish libertine artist come to Boston to avoid his creditors. Stewart Jameson hopes to dodge the advertisements of those who would see his return to home shores; but he is by nature a gregarious soul, who spins his tale in the flowery prose of the times (1764), convincing friends to ignore his suspect past.

A request for an assistant brings a ragged Francis Weston to Jamesonís door, a careworn urchin who applies for the position, Westonís luminous work a shock to the worldly painter. Indeed, this apprentice is talented, a boon for Jamesonís commissions. The colonies are on the verge of rebellion, a growing faction of important townsmen meeting regularly to voice opposition to the Kingís taxation, publishing their dialogs in a local newspaper.

It is Jamesonís good fortune to begin a number of portraits on behalf of the rebellious officials with his new assistant at his side. Much to his chagrin, Jameson becomes increasingly susceptible to the charms of his young hire, cringing from the implications of his fascination yet moving ever-closer to his not-unwilling quarry.

The chapters of Jamesonís troubled ruminations are interspersed with lengthy letters written by his apprentice. These impassioned letters reveal that nothing is as it first appears, that love can flourish even in the meanest quarters, and that ruined womanhood is a by-product of a very conventional society. Riddles abound throughout the book and through them we, ďDear Reader(s),Ē are meant to solve the many mysteries put forth.

When a prominent man dies of poisoning, a grave injustice is done, innocent slaves condemned for the manís death. Suddenly, Jamesonís friend from Scotland appears - a freed man, Ignatius Alexander, who now bears the marks of slavery. As the two men are reunited and Alexander displays his great wit and erudition, Jameson, Alexander and Weston plot to reverse the travesty of the court and reveal the true murderer.

To that end an elaborate plot evolves, one only made clear in stages. A balance between social injustice and a bawdy wit, the charactersí personalities belie the sorrows each has endured, a reckoning ahead for them and the town.

In spite of the fact that Blindspot is the work of two authors, this issue is neither noticeable nor an imperfection. However, the lengthy tome might have benefited from a bit more editing. Still, this story is filled with passion, political and otherwise, embracing the hopes and mendacity of a country struggling to be born.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2009

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