Pursuit of Happiness by Sheldon Greene

Pursuit of HappinessReviewed by Teri Davis

It is difficult for us to truly understand life during the American Revolution. Pursuit of Happiness gives us that insight through the eyes of Joshua Rutledge, a Quaker from Philadelphia and Amelia Syre, the wife of a plantation owner on a Caribbean island.

Living as a Quaker, Joshua learns the meaning of a peaceful lifestyle. He is conflicted when he is approached by a friend to infiltrate the British occupied area. Is this going against the beliefs of his family? Would his family believe that he is doing the right thing? Within himself, he wonders about this. Having succeeded at this task, Joshua is given a new assignment directly from General Washington involving acquiring guns and ammunition from the Caribbean.

Amelia Syre is living the luxurious life on a sugar plantation on the island of St. Catherine’s. However, things are seldom as they seem. Her husband, Duncan, impregnated her companion and slave. Amelia is furious and really wants nothing to do with him. Unlike Duncan, she immediately gets help for the poor girl. Even though Amelia is the mistress, she values her slaves and respects them as humans. Her slaves trust her and fear her husband.

The story transitions from the disadvantaged colonial troops to the slave rebellions in Caribbean. Other issues such as smuggling arms, relationships with the French forces, the acceptance and distrust of the Jewish businessmen, Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, Benedict Arnold, and the struggles of the colonists from various perspectives are all incorporated into this novel.

Pursuit of Happiness is a Revolutionary War Gone with the Wind and resembles Nelson DeMille’s historical novels. This is a wonderful story based on real historical incidents and people adding validity to the author’s fictional aspects. The characters are believable even if they tend to have many romantic opportunities. The story moves quickly and has constant conflicts to add to the authenticity.

Sheldon Greene is a lawyer in Southern California. He has previously written three novels, Lost and Found, Burnt Umber, and Prodigal Sons.

Overall, Pursuit of Happiness is a true snapshot, if slightly overly romantic, into the colonial time period.

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