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A Daughter of Liberty: The Shannon Family Saga    by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch order for
Daughter of Liberty
by Allan Cole
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 1993 (1993)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Allan Cole and Chris Bunch spin a significant historical saga dating from 1778 to 1814, using original sources of diaries and letters wherever possible. The story is told in a five-book format beginning in Valley Forge, and continuing to Cherry Valley, NY, to Philadelphia, PA, and Washington. The authors credit the women and minorities who played a vast role in shaping history.

Among these women is Diana Jameson, a 15-year-old indentured servant, escaping an abusive master with the assistance of Emmett Shannon. Emmett is a deserter from the Continental Army at Valley Forge. Diana and Emmett fall in love and marry en route to his family in Cherry Valley. But Emmett is mortally wounded while pursuing renegades bent on pillage and destruction. Alone, Diana continues to Cherry Valley where, with the birth of a son, she assumes leadership of the Shannon homestead, surviving the war, attacks of rebels, and vengeful Seneca Indians. Diana's natural instinct for business leads her to establish a successful inn upon the Shannon homestead. From the sale of the Cherry Valley inn, Diana resourcefully progresses to Pennsylvania with stepson Farrell and son James Emmett. Taken under the wing of Michael and Anne Walsh in the city of Philadelphia, Diana strategically establishes new business ventures.

But, her Philadelphia success is not without pain. Hundreds of refugees arrive at the city's docks of the already well-populated Philadelphia. The seasons take their own course with too-warm winters, and low rainfall causing dried crops, and cracked dirt streets. When the rain does come harshly, it leaves paths of mud and stagnant water where mosquitos breed. Yellow fever devastates the city. Diana comes to the aid of the sick, saving as many as she can with natural remedies. She vehemently fights the city doctors, who believe that bleeding the stricken is the only way to purge them of disease. From a population of 55,000, Philadelphia dwindles to 30,000 residents after the plague. On leave from her Philadelphia businesses, Diana travels to Boston for the marriage of Farrell to Constance O'Hara. With the failing of the chandlery owned by inlaws Ruth and Isaac in that city, Diana brings the family to Philadelphia to join her enterprises.

In Philadelphia, 'golden times' were with the Shannons. Isaac says of his sister-in-law, 'Elm Court as her engine and the family at her back ... Diana built a glorious machine I ain't seen the likes of in all my years of wander.' And to add to the family name, Farrell and Constance presented Diana with seven grandchildren. The humane Diana is strongly against slavery. Knowing she will be faced with the issue, Diana hesitantly travels to Virginia to attend the marriage of son James Emmett to Eliza Hope Beecham. It is here that she meets John Maguire, who becomes a friend and companion. From Virginia, Diana ventures to Washington at the request of her good friend Dolly (Todd) Madison, wife of President James Madison. Of Washington Diana thinks, 'What could one expect in a city that produced nothing but government ... It seemed to Diana that everybody she met was here to serve his own purpose.' Again, there is no safety in Washington as the Royal Navy attacks the States.

Diana is stalwart, concerned for all classes, rich and poor - she works from her heart. She's an independent woman, generous, and caring, and a true 'Daughter of Liberty'. Cole and Bunch begin with a leisurely-paced story that gains momentum with each succeeding chapter. Their novel tells of courage, love, hardship, sadness, and joy through war, plagues, destruction, and rebuilding. I recommend the book, whose ending left me longing for a continuation of the story. For readers who enjoy rich, historical fiction, Cole and Bunch successfully deliver.

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