Did Jane Austen see Caro Lapsford in London that summer? It’s unlikely, but author Brian Mullally would like to imagine that they did even if it is just a mere exchange of glances. Inspired by this would-be encounter, he weaves a riveting historical fiction,
If I Were a Blackbird.
When Caro Lapsford receives the news that her lover, Kemp Saunders, has been press-ganged into the Navy, she is determined to help him escape. She persuades her father to sail his trawler to London, because she wants to be there when the Channel Fleet returns to port. Kemp and his two brothers, and their American friend William Benson were taken by force when their merchant ship was waylaid on the high seas by a British man-o-war.
Caro plans to dress Kemp as a woman and smuggle him ashore. But, Kemp is caught up in a web of intrigue, when the men of the fleet refuse to obey further orders until they receive their back pay. Will Kemp be able to escape and start a new life with Caro? And what part will the American play in her future life?
Jane Austen has given modern readers a window into the lives of the landed gentry, but their servants remain faceless. If I Were a Blackbird is a not another story about the gentry. Rather it is about the lives of ordinary peopleóthe men who provided the blood and sinew to fight Englandís wars and the courage and fortitude of the women who shared their lives.