Through Tempest Forged, a historical novel set in Virginia in 1775, is the story of the Rogers family and how they cope with their changing world as they and their neighbors must choose between the crown and the patriot resistance. Passaris portrays the rancor caused by these dueling loyalties, and the brutality that sometimes erupts, vividly and sometimes terrifyingly.
This novel, however, is as much as a story of the personal as the political. Paul and Elizabeth’s sons and daughters are of marriageable age, and the book follows their heartaches, joys, and tragedies as they mature. The characters, particularly the male ones, are complex and flawed, and Passaris brings them to life deftly. The dialogue is lively and realistic, and appropriately coarse at times. (And lines like “Virginia is what North Carolina would like to be” shows that some things haven’t changed over the years!)
Though this novel isn’t a romance novel, there are plenty of love stories here, including a very moving, unconventional one between John Peter Rogers and the prostitute’s daughter he befriends.
At times, I did think that the novel could have used a little more tightening. Sometimes, for instance, Passaris unnecessarily comments on what the characters are thinking and feeling when it’s readily apparent from their dialogue and their actions. This, however, is a decidedly minor flaw in an excellent first novel. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
You can find an interview with Barbara here.