Mirrors & Smoke focuses on Rebecca Plummer, a woman of whom nothing is recorded but vital statistics (BMD), as she negotiates colonial life and turbulent times in the years leading up to and during the War of 1812. Rebecca Plummer is a Canadian herbalist and midwife with a shameful secret and feminist outlook, caught up in the War of 1812 in Niagara, Upper Canada. When the United States invades Canada, Rebecca's dedication to healing is put to the test, and she struggles to keep her family and community together despite wartime deprivation and gossip. Her story is interwoven with events seen through the eyes of her foster-son, a radical politician, and a British army officer, all of whose lives become entangled with her family's and offer contrasting perceptions of Rebecca and her life. Based on real people and historical events, this fictionalized account presents a rarely seen view of life in war-torn, colonial-era Canada .It blends historical and imagined roles, and deals with the war from the Upper Canadian point of view. This work placed 3rd in the Historical Novel category of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2023 competition.
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My stillroom faced north, a sanctuary in an uncertain world. Its multi-paned windows spilled light onto my workbench, but there remained enough dark corners where cooking and medicinal herbs could cure properly, and my decoctions rest secure. In one corner cupboard, bearing the only lock in the house, lay our precious stores of salt and tea. I took a deep breath, revelling in the scents—basil, marjoram, thyme, mint—still fragrant after winter storage. I sorted through last year's stock, keeping one ear cocked for my young cousins' footsteps.
Eliza and Maryel had gone to gather spring herbs and greens from the countryside. I hoped to include fresh foods in our evening meal. They should have returned by now. Since the news of their mother's death in England came with the first spring letters, they had taken to disappearing together, I believed to grieve in private. Even then…they were never gone this long.READ MORE
I stepped onto the stoop, my eyes watering at the sudden glare. To the east, Fort Niagara loomed across the river's mouth on the American shore. I heard the drumbeat that signalled soldiers drilling there. To the northwest, the stone lighthouse guarded the Upper Canadian lakeshore. No sign of the girls. Perhaps the house was blocking my view. As I rounded the corner, I could see along the Niagara River. Nobody there, either.
Maryel was nineteen, and Eliza twenty-five. No longer girls, but young women.COLLAPSE
Jenny Lang. [goodreads.com] wrote:
"Mirrors & Smoke captivates from the start and delivers a moving tale of perseverance in the face of tragedy. Rebecca Plummer is a healer, midwife, and caregiver to women whose strength has been diminished by childbearing, near starvation, and abuse. In 1812, when the United States invades Canada, Rebecca’s dedication to healing is put to the test. Told from multiple perspectives, the reader is given interwoven views of the war, and contrasting perceptions about Rebecca and her life. Based on real people and historical events, this fictionalized account is told from the Canadian perspective and presents a rarely seen view of life in war-torn, rural Canada."
"The thing I love most about reading historical fiction is learning more about places and pieces of history that I didn't fully appreciate before. In this book, Adrienne Stevenson does a brilliant job immersing us in the war of 1812 - from the Canadian side, and from the point of view of the strong and engaging Rebecca Plummer, among others. Many Americans don't realize the US invaded Canada during the War of 1812. This book follows not only the travails of Rebecca Plummer as she works to keep her family and her community safe, but includes an entire cast of point of view characters that help illuminate the politics and the humanity behind the war. Readers who like to be immersed in history, becoming part of the story through the eyes of the characters, will love this story and recommend it to others."