Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Book Review: The Whisky Rebels by David Liss

It’s difficult to distill everything that’s going on in this novel into a short summary, but I’ll try. Basically, it follows two plotlines which merge in the later part of the novel. One is narrated by the disgraced (and drunk) former Revolutionary War spy Ethan Saunders as he seeks to aid a former sweetheart and gets involved in trying to stop a plot against the US Treasury. The other is narrated by Joan Maycott who together with her husband, also a war veteran, try to improve their lot on the frontier by coming up with a new whisky recipe (which proves so popular that the government decides to tax it to raise funds).

I’ll admit that I was a bit reluctant to start this book even though I was intrigued enough to request it from the LT ER program (especially when I have such amazing reading material coming out of my ears at the moment), but once I did, I was completely charmed by the devil-may-care attitude of Ethan and the raw determination and clever machinations of Joan. I found their fictional stories, intertwined with real historical events and personalities, compelling reading. Author David Liss has an impressive talent for making history, even something as potentially boring as 18th century finance, really come alive. Joan sets out to write a novel, but she ends up living one – and a very good one at that.

7 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Sounds like a interesting read. Thanks for the review.

Serena said...

thanks for the review. I've seen this one about the other blogs as well.

Lenore said...

It's interesting and fun to read - a great combination for a satisfying reading experience.

Steve said...

Sounds good. Does it take place in Western PA, where the real whiskey rebellion occurred before Washington had to send in the army to put them down?!?!

Lisa said...

Steve, it does, and it's weird to keep reading about Western PA as "the frontier", although I suppose it was at the time.

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Lenore. I'm apparently the only person in the blogosphere who didn't.

Lenore said...

Yes Steve, like Lisa said, it takes place in your old stomping grounds. Madame LaRue would be proud.

Lisa - I had your review in mind when I started reading it actually and I totally see where you are coming from but I just connected with the characters so much that I couldn't help but enjoy it.

Anna said...

I really had no intention of reading this book, but your review makes it sound interesting, so maybe I'll check it out once I clear away some of the books waiting for me now.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric