Christine Blevins

Historical Fiction

Readers Guide – The Tory Widow

  1. A woman’s marital status had considerable impact on the opportunities available to her in 18th century colonial America. The same was true of widowhood. How do you think Anne Merrick’s life changed as a result both of her marriage and of the death of her husband?
  2. What specific events and experiences do you think caused Anne Merrick to move from political ambivalence to ardent patriotism over the course of the story? How do you think her life changed as a result?
  3. American patriots and loyalists alike were adversely affected by tumultuous events depicted in The Tory Widow. Do you think the demands and sacrifices required of average Americans during the revolution compare to those of present day Americans in 21st Century wartime? How so?
  4. “Now there’s another fine example of foolishness—they won’t allow a black man to carry a gun or stop a British musket ball when it is clear they need every willing hand—more afraid of slave insurrection than they are of becoming slaves themselves.” What would be the motivation for a black man, free or slave, to support the revolution?
  5. Colonial Americans waged armed rebellion against the colonial system, which lacked representational government and limited economic growth. Can you imagine conditions or events that could drive contemporary Americans to revolt against their government?
  6. “Our independence is won as much by lead type as it will be by lead bullets.”
    Discuss the importance and the impact of the printed word during the time of the American Revolution.
  7. The struggle for independence is a major theme of The Tory Widow. What stories of quest for individual freedom are interwoven into the larger backdrop of the fight for American independence from England?
  8. Tarring and feathering and physical violence against private citizens, destroying private property, and firebombing naval vessels —all can be described as acts of terrorism. As a private citizen, does the goal of political change free Jack Hampton of any moral liability for his involvement in these acts?
  9. The city of New York in 1775 convulses with sudden and violent change. How do Jack and Anne’s experiences and those of the people they meet reflect those changes?
  10. Describe the Anne Merrick we meet on her wedding day at the beginning of the book. Compare her to the Anne Merrick we’ve come to know at the story’s conclusion.
  11. We are introduced to the strong—in some cases, overbearing—personalities of Anne Merrick’s father, husband, and brother. Little mention, however, is made in the story of female family members. What effect do you think such a male-dominated upbringing might have on the development of a woman raised in eighteenth century America?
  12. At age twenty-five, Anne Merrick lost her husband and only child to a small pox epidemic, a common occurrance at the time. How did these losses affect her life? Compare attitudes pertaining toward death and mourning in era of high infant and child mortality to those we hold today.
  13. Despite her low status as a common prostitute, Patsy Quinn was an ally both to Jack and Anne, and a fearless patriot. Compare Patsy’s value and standing in society to that of Betsy Loring.