Note: I received a digital copy of The Times that Try Men’s Souls from the author for review consideration.
This historical fiction novel covers events surrounding the American Revolutionary War, specifically focusing on the Culper spy ring–a historical group that I sadly learned about through an episode of White Collar, rather than through any history book or class… I wonder how I missed that? Spy rings and history–that’s right up my alley!
Anyway, this book follows Abraham, the appointed leader of the Culper spies, and the struggles he faces as he and his friends face danger and death by the hands of British soldiers. Abraham convinces his friend, Robert, to join him, but as the two friends begin to lose everything they care about, they start to wonder if their efforts are really worth it.
The problem I had with this book was not so much a problem with the book itself, as it was a problem with my own personal tastes. When I picked it up (figuratively), I thought it would focus more closely on spy escapades and the danger and intrigue they faced. Instead, I found descriptions of battles and several fist fights. I really enjoyed Sophia’s story, as she carried on a relationship with a British officer in order to obtain information from him. I found her story very touching, and it stood out, especially in this story, as women were mostly considered objects to be either protected or disregarded (I enjoyed Martha’s character as well, as another active female character in this time period). My only other complaint is a few odd turns of phrase that made it difficult to stay immersed in the story–I spent a few minutes trying to decipher phrases like, “she instructed passively” or “his fingers folded at the joints.”
If you’re into stories about war which actually focus on the events of the war, you’ll probably enjoy The Times that Try Men’s Souls. If you like Revolutionary War stuff (and who doesn’t?), this will definitely show you a different aspect of that well-known American war (at least, it was new to me). Just be aware that, in terms of spy stuff, this book focuses more on the big picture, rather than on the spy exploits. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just not my thing.
Rating: Not My Cup of Tea