From New York Times bestselling author Amy Harmon comes the saga of a young woman who dares to chart her own destiny in life and love during the American Revolutionary War.
In 1760, Deborah Samson is born to Puritan parents in Plympton, Massachusetts. When her father abandons the family and her mother is unable to support them, Deborah is bound out as an indentured servant. From that moment on, she yearns for a life of liberation and adventure.
Twenty years later, as the American colonies begin to buckle in their battle for independence, Deborah, impassioned by the cause, disguises herself as a soldier and enlists in the Continental Army. Her impressive height and lanky build make her transformation a convincing one, and it isn’t long before she finds herself confronting the horrors of war head-on.
But as Deborah fights for her country’s freedom, she must contend with the secret of who she is—and, ultimately, a surprising love she can’t deny.
WARNING: long review ahead (as usual, I have plenty to say about Amy’s book).
She did it again!
Amy really impressed me here! Yet since I follow her from the beginning, I shouldn’t be so surprised by her talent!
A Girl Called Samson is an impressive piece about history! And for Amy’s fans, history comes first, romance second in this book. Yet, the romance will certainly more than satisfy you.
A Girl Called Samson is about so many things!
It’s about finding yourself and your voice. Following your dreams, as unlikely as they might seem.
It’s about freedom. Yearning for that freedom and equal rights for everyone.
It’s about indenture and slavery.
It’s about war and how it tears families apart, shatters hopes and changes men and women alike.
But it’s also about found families, friendship and romance.
And it’s about faith and scriptures.
If you don’t like books with passages about scripture, faith and God then don’t read it.
I on the other hand loved reading about scriptures and the bible in that book, not only because it rang true to the time period but because it was SO AMY! And it made me ponder and wonder at the same time.
One of the quotes I identified most was: “But Romans 12:2 is more to my liking: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
But let’s backtrack here and talk about plot and characters.
A Girl Called Samson is about Deborah Samson, a girl who dreamt of freedom and equal rights to men.
Deborah or Rob was bound very young to a farmers family.
“At five years old, I was alone in the world. At eight, I became a servant to a widow who treated me like a dog. At ten, I was indentured to a farmer until I turned eighteen. I was only a child then, but being bound out marked me deeply and lit a rebellion in my veins I have never quelled. Maybe that was the moment I became a soldier. Maybe that was the day it all began.”
That will set the tone of the story.
Imagine being placed at ten years old in a family of ten boys to work the whole day helping that family?
Lucky for “Rob” she needed to move all the time, to do things and be constantly occupied to feel well. That made her very valued and liked by the family members. She also aimed to always excel at things she had to do.
That meant running faster than all the ten boys, shooting better than the boys, … everything!
Young Deborah was very smart but the family couldn’t let her attend school. Yet she thirsted for knowledge. And with the help of a reverend, she’ll begin to correspond with the reverend’s niece, Elisabeth, ten years older than Deborah, who will proceed to enlighten and educate her the best she could.
That all made me realize how privileged we are to be allowed to attend school, whatever our gender! We often forget that these are hard won rights.
From Deborah’s childhood spent working all the time, the story gets to the American Revolutionary War.
Being European, I had a vague knowledge of that war. Our history classes focused more on the Secession War and I had no idea the Revolutionary War lasted so many years!
I read to escape but also to learn and learn I did!
I really loved reading about the birth of the war, the different generals, the troop’s moves, the schemes, everything! And I think Amy did a solid work researching everything.
As Rob had always been “one of the boys” and with her deprived of freedom since childhood, freeing her country felt very appealing to her. It was a calling. Because the day she turned eighteen and was not indentured anymore, she realized she still wasn’t free to do what she wanted. Because being a woman meant enrolment was impossible.
“But freedom is not left or right, up or down. It exists in degrees. A bird has more freedom than a horse. A dog has more freedom than a sheep, though it might depend on the value—or the lack of value—of the beast. A man has more freedom than a woman, but only a few men have any real freedom at all. Freedom takes health and money and even wisdom, and I had two of the three, but I had no more freedom the day I turned eighteen than I’d had before.”
Yet Deborah needed to pursue her dream, to do her part.
“I do not want to be a wife,” I whispered. “I do not want to be a woman.” Emotion rose and broke, and my reflection became a watery smear. “I want to be a soldier.””
In that silent scream, I felt all of Deborah’s yearning and despair!
It became even more crucial when death from beloved one began to pile up around her.
“If I don’t do this, I cannot continue on,” I said to the silent walls. “I would rather die.” I was not given to histrionics or overexaggerations, but in the very depth of my being, I knew it was true. I had lost my hope, and if I did not pursue it, I would be finished.”
And so, Deborah will realize her plan: cut her hair, band her breast, don a waistcoat, a hat and pretend to be a young boy to enroll.
We will follow Rob in battle, we will fear discovery alongside her. The schemes she had to devise to wash, go to the loo unnoticed as a woman while living in barracks with hundreds of me.
He willpower was astounding.
She walked, shot, was deprived of sleep. She fought with an empty belly, froze in winter, sustained wounds… everything without complaint, with courage and resilience. She was one of the best soldiers.
And that says it all about the kind of heroine Deborah was.
“No one has ever protected me, General. I have only ever had myself.” He winced, and his shoulders drooped slightly. “That is a tragedy, Miss Samson.” “Please call me Rob. That is what the brothers called me. And no. It is not a tragedy. It is a victory. One I am proud of.””
- THIS! This is Deborah. Heroine extraordinaire. My hero!
Reading her story humbled me.
It made me realize how easy I have it. How privileged I am. And that all these privileges and freedom were hard won by men and women who fought hard before me. Barely reaping the glory but because they wanted her children and children’s children to live in a better world.
I won’t talk about the love story as I don’t want to spoil it.
Just know that it unfurled gradually, with a man worthy of Deborah’s affection. Someone strong yet just and kind.
I could go on and on about that story.
I was so engrossed that I read it while walking in the woods. I just couldn’t stop reading. And I drew astonished looks when I began to cry as some losses felt heavier than other losses. I just was smitten and awed by Deborah’s story.
Thank you Amy for enlightening me once more and for opening my eyes to all the blessings I have while walking through an extraordinary woman’s boots!
Thanks for reading!
Beautifully written, Sophie. The quotes you chose are perfect for showing Deborah’s courage and tenacity of spirit. This is a story that will remain with me for a very long while.
I appreciate the reminder of how far we have come. I think sometimes we lose sight of that. Like you, I don’t mind scripture, but it’s a good caveat to have in your review.
That’s what I love reading historical fiction. It makes me see how far we went.
I see loads of love for this one, Sophie! 😀
Amy is an amazing writer Lashaan!
What a superb review! When I saw this, I was so so intrigued. I love stories revolving around the Revolutionary war, it really humbles you to realize how easy we really have it, we live in luxury in comparison to so many that sacrificed so much to fight for just basic freedoms. Definitely will be buying this one! Thanks for the in depth review for this.
You are so welcome Renee! I hope you’ll love it as much as I did and I’ll make sure to read your review!