American Revolution Overshadows Janice Meredith

Paul Leicester Ford’s subtitle to his 1900 bestselling romance, Janice Meredith, reveals what’s good and bad about the novel: It’s about the American Revolution, not about Janice Meredith.

As the novel opens, a man calling himself Charles Fownes, newly arrived in New Jersey from England, begins a five-year indenture to Lambert Meredith.

Meredith’s pro-British sentiments and high-handedness with this tenant farmers have made him unpopular with the lower strata of society, which in 1774 is already seething with resentment against King George. Locals suspect Fownes is a deserter from the British army using a false name.

Fownes is immediately enamored of Meredith’s buxom, 15-year-old daughter, Janice, and almost as soon smitten with enthusiasm for the rebel cause. Before long, he’s doing work for General Washington.

Yorktown is under siege seven years later before Ford reveals who the indentured servant really is.

The implausibility of both the fictional characters and the plot makes this long novel seem longer than the Revolution.

Having generals Washington, Howe, and Cornwallis pour their top-secret plans into Janice’s shell-like ear beggars belief. She’s a brainless bimbo, with a mental age of about 4.

Janice Meredith would have been a much better book without Janice Meredith in it.

Janice Meredith: A Story of the American Revolution
By Paul Leicester Ford
Mary Mannering Edition
With a Miniature by Lillie V. O’Ryan
and numerous Scenes from the Play
Project Gutenberg EBook #5719
My grade: C-

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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