Pursuit of Happiness by Sheldon Greene (Review #2)

Pursuit of HappinessReviewed by Cy Hilterman

I had read the description of the book as written by the author and expected to find myself “grabbed from the first page” but I was not so grabbed! The beginning and for quite a few pages was used to describe the books characters, surrounding nature, the description of the clothing, and in general, the times. However, after the first part of the book things got very interesting as more of the Revolutionary War and the characters of that war were introduced making the reader then “be grabbed”! The authors’ descriptive writing made the story very intriguing. You will meet George Washington and many of the military and government leaders of the day.

Amelia Sayre was married to Duncan seemingly in name only. Duncan promised much but rarely followed through, such as the six-months in Europe that never materialized. Duncan also wanted no parts of children, a fact that Amelia found so wrong for a married couple. Amelia would look out to the sea waiting for ships to sail into port hoping that something new would arise from that arrival. Amelia had her friends and Rachel was probably the closest. Slavery was very much a part of the times. Some slaves were given some freedom within the family they worked for but were never totally free. They took their unbearable punishment if they did not obey to the letter of their masters.

Joshua Rutledge was a Quaker and Quakers are pacifists, or are supposed to be and Joshua strongly believed that that was the way to live during these times of war. He would not fight even though many in the government tried to talk him into helping the Americans, knowing what a leader he was. General George Washington and some of his military leaders figured they could get Joshua to help by conveying information back and forth. This would give them valuable information that only a select leader like Joshua could dig for. Reluctant at first he gave in and started valuable trips to areas where he could ascertain figures, materials, ammunition, weapons, and many other sorts of information not available in normal ways. One of his first assignments was to find a ship to transport munitions back to America. Joshua’s family was barrel makers. The barrels sometimes were shipped with no content but usually containing various kinds of goods, including munitions. He became involved in various shipments while he tried to find the “right” ship to carry his cargo. He was taken to many parts of the globe and met many interesting people from many nationalities. Joshua’s love was Amelia. Even though she was married he wanted her for his wife. The love would not leave him. He would be with several other women in friendship and for sex but Amelia never left his heart.

Rachael was Jewish and she was from a fairly strict family. She loved Joshua but had many suitors after her for her love. Rachael and Amelia knew each other but were not aware that they loved the same man. Absence made their hearts grow stronger as Joshua would be gone from the area making many trips, most by ship, to areas far and near.

The story is fantastic. The author has written a riveted story intertwined with all kinds of characters, most of them real in their times. Mr. Greene has given us quite a blend of historical figures and given us a deeper feel of what types of life they actually led. Of course there is fiction but most of the book is true and very historic. After I got through the beginning of the book I had a hard time leaving it.

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