The Linwoods, Or, "Sixty Years Since" in America
A story of familial and national discord, conciliation, and redemption, The Linwoods is perhaps the major work of one of the leading writers of early American literature. Set during the American Revolution, Catharine Sedgwick's last historical romance addresses issues of virtuous citizenship, civic identity, and the political development of the nation. The primary narrative thread tells the story of two families: the Linwoods, who are loyalists, and the Lees, who are revolutionaries. Much of the novel narrates the transformation of the Linwood children, especially the heroine, Isabella, from Tory to Rebel. In the process, Isabella not only rebels against British control of the colonies, but challenges the institution of slavery, gender norms, and patriarchal authority. Disguise, intrigues of Rebel and Tory spies, cross-racial and cross-gender passing, as well as cases of mistaken identity not only make for a compelling read, but also foster an anti-aristocratic skepticism of surface appearances and external markers of virtue and identity that resonated with the rhetoric of Jacksonian democracy.
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