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15 January, 2009
Book Review: The Halifax Connection by Marie Jakober
Publishe: andom House Canada
Publish Date: 2007
Canada in 1862 was not the proud country we know today. It was still collection of colonies run by the British crown. To the south of Canada in the United States, the Civil War is becoming more volatile. As the fighting gets hotter, people from both sides, Yankee and Confederate alike cross the border into the British Colonies for many reasons. Among the southern gentry flooding into the cities of Halifax and Montreal, there are many spies and military personages. These men and women have ulterior motives to put into action secret plans against the Yankees. Secret plans that may or may not start a war between England and the United States. If a war is started between the two countries, the Confederacy would have an ally in fighting against the Yankees.
Former theater manager and ex-British aristocrat Erryn Shaw finds himself recruited as a spy for the British crown. His job is to befriend the Southern rebels and learn their secret plans. While on a mission to Montreal, he hears about an exceptionally sinister plot being planned by the Confederates. A plan, which the men in charge believe with all their hearts will win them the war.
While in Montreal, Erryn meets and courts a woman he finds intriguing and charming named Sylvie Bowen. Sylvie has recently emigrated to Canada, escaping life of drudgery working in the cotton mills of England. Sylvie also stands firm in her hatred of the Southern rebels. Because of their piracy, she and her aunt Franny were forced to land on Nassau. Only Sylvie would then travel onto Halifax. Her aunt left behind to be buried in a mass grave, for the victims of a Yellow Fever epidemic that was raging through the island when the women were forced ashore by the sinking of the English trader they were traveling on by the confederate ship the Alabama.
Erryn finds himself drawn deeper into the intrigue surrounding the plot he has uncovered. Meanwhile his feelings for Sylvie deepen as he spends more time with her. He finds himself in a race against time. Can Erryn Shaw find a way to stop the Rebel’s plans and keep England from starting a war with the United States? Can he do so and pull out of the spy game before his beloved Sylvie discovers he is a “Grey Tory” siding with those she despises? Or will he run out of time and loose both Sylvie and the hope of defeating the plan that the Rebels believe will end the war.
The Halifax Connection draws its story from actual events in Canada’s history. I was fascinated by the story, as much of my Civil War knowledge had ended with Canada being one of the end points of the underground railroad. This book is a fantastic example of historical fiction. It is superbly written and transports readers back in time to an exiting time in Canada’s colonial history. Author Marie Jakober takes us into the ballrooms and parlors of the bustling city of Montreal to the dirty, military garrisoned port town of Halifax. I originally won this book as a part of the first Hidden Treasures contest held by West of Mars back in the summer of 2007. I’m finding myself sorry for letting this book languish for so long in my “to be read soon" basket. This is one of the best examples of fiction set during the Civil War that I have read in a very long time. Author Marie Jakober has a love and passion for the Civil War and her own country’s involvement in it. This passion shows through in an extremely well crafted and exiting adventure of a story.