The Fairest Portion of the Globe comes out in about two weeks! We were thrilled to receive this rave review from Historical Novels Review Online, the website of the venerable Historical Novel Society. Our heartfelt thanks go out to reviewer Steve Donoghue. Check out the Historical Novel Society website for more reviews of fascinating fiction.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that one of the biggest attractions held by historical novels is the chance we’ll get to hear famous figures from the past vilifying, bad-mouthing, and otherwise slandering other famous figures from the past. After all, we weren’t around to slander such famous figures ourselves, and we probably wouldn’t have had the courage to do it even if we were. So it’s smiles all around when, in Frances Hunter’s fantastic new novel The Fairest Portion of the Globe, General “Mad Anthony” Wayne unloads these choice words on none other than Meriwether Lewis: “Ensign, as an officer, you’re not worth the shit on my shoes.”
The novel delivers such smiles frequently (“He’d been warned to expect coldness from the American temperament,” we’re told of a French visitor who’s just been presented to George Washington, “but had anyone checked Washington’s pulse lately?”), but thankfully, there’s much more to it than a little costume irreverence. Hunter has crafted a well-researched, fast-paced, and incredibly lively novel of frontier war and intrigue in 1793 Louisiana, as Jefferson and his various agents seek to wrest the territory from the control of Spain using any means necessary—including two young officers who are just beginning to forge the friendship that will become the famously ampersanded Lewis & Clark.
The Fairest Portion of the Globe abounds with great set pieces, fascinating period details, and a compelling “backstage” look at history in the making, but none of those things will absorb you the way Hunter’s sheer bravura writing ability will. The characters here leap off the page, vibrantly living their lives, reading their books, worrying their worries—and the end result is nothing less than wonderful. Urgently, wholeheartedly recommended. — Steve Donoghue