Monday, June 25, 2012

The Legend of Tempe Wick

And I saw what I wanted to see. I saw a vision on a horse, galloping down the road from the west. And for a moment it was like a dream.

The girl was part of the horse, surely. The horse's feet scarcely touched the ground as it strained forward with an effort that made every muscle in its powerful body stand out. And something magical there was in the sight of them. For it did seem as if they were flying in the night.

They were parting the night and pushing it back in rolling waves as they winged through it.

The very whiteness of Colonel was a shock to the sensibilities as he dove through the waters of the night, the girl leaning forward on his neck. Her long hair streamed out, all mixed in with his mane.

And I knew what she was doing as she leaned forward, close to his neck. She was whispering in his ears. She was telling him how wonderful he was.

A Ride Into Morning, by Ann Rinaldi
1991; 353 pp

A Ride Into Morning centers on the mutiny of the Pennsylvania troops in Morristown, NJ, in January 1781. This is not a part of US history that I think many of us hear about and it was interesting. Rinaldi builds in some nuance too. The Wick family, and its members, are divided and sometimes undecided on the issue of war and their loyalties are not always clear. The Pennsylvania troops are not depicted as evil traitors, but as real people who had endured tremendous suffering. This is not a good-versus-evil story. The people, and the circumstances, are complex.

I did, however, feel that some parts of the story were more drawn out than they needed to be, almost as if there were not enough material to fill a required word count. Some of the dialogue seems to go nowhere for several lines and comes across as filler. The tension between Tempe and her cousin Mary seemed, to me, to be forced as times. These young girls are both depicted as extremely headstrong and almost obnoxious. This just did not ring completely authentic to me. It seems that young Presbyterian girls of that time and place would have been much more deferential to authority than these girls are in the story and to have two such girls in one place seemed a stretch. Young girls, essentially on their own, surrounded by a potentially mutinous army I think would have been more terrified and a sense of vulnerability in their precarious situation seemed to be lacking.

In the end, I recommend it for its historical accuracy and the joy that the author had in making these characters come to life is evident. It is still possible to visit the Wick farm in New Jersey and young teens (particularly girls who love horses) will likely savor this story about two brave and saucy young women at the time and place of our nation's birth.

No comments:

Post a Comment