Becoming Valley Forge.
Becoming Valley Forge
Elevator Group Publishing
PO Box 207, Paoli, PA 19301
9780982494592, $17.95, PB, 564pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Becoming Valley Forge" by Sheilah Vance is an epic historical novel that shows how the lives of ordinary men and women who lived in the shadow of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, were changed forever during The Philadelphia Campaign in mid-1777, when the American Revolutionary War conflict came to their doorsteps, leading them and their loved ones to the Valley Forge from winter 1777 through summer 1778. James, a former slave, lives as a blacksmith on Rebel Hill in Gulph Mills, with his patriot friend, Daniel. Daniel is reluctant to volunteer for the army because he supports his mother and sister. James questions the sincerity of patriots who fight for freedom when so many African Americans are still slaves. But, the Continental Army's occupation of Rebel Hill in early December uproots their plans. Orland Roberts, a Paoli farmer, leads a local patriot spy network with the help of his wife Teenie, daughter Betsey, and brother Norman, who owns a local tavern.
As soon as they come of age, the Roberts' boys (Fred and Allen) enlist in the Continental Army under the command of their neighbor, General Anthony Wayne, which puts them in the thick of The Philadelphia Campaign battles. The family outcast, Connie, who runs a brothel in Philadelphia that services many British officers during their occupation of the city, views the presence of both the redcoats and the patriots in the area as just another challenge that she has to conquer to survive, until a series of events causes her to put family ties above all else. Their paths converge, along with many other people's, at Valley Forge, where General George Washington's Continental Army, a young nation, and the fascinating characters in the book are forced to confront the reality and the aftermath of war, revolution, and freedom as they grow and become the meaning of Valley Forge.
Critique: Although a work of fiction, author Sheilah Vance has included a great deal of historically factual background details in her stirring saga of a novel. Impressively well written from beginning to end, "Becoming Valley Forge" is highly recommended for both community and academic library Historical Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Becoming Valley Forge" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).