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The Freemason's Daughter

Review

The Freemason's Daughter

Shelley Sackier's first historical novel, THE FREEMASON’S DAUGHTER, follows the story of Jenna MacDuff in 18th century England as she is forced to leave her homeland of Scotland with her father and his stonemason group in order to secretly promote the Jacobite movement.

This story takes place after the death of Queen Anne in 1714. Due to the Act of Settlement 1701, which prohibits Catholics from ascending the British throne, George I, who is German by birth, inherited the throne over 50 other Roman Catholics who had closer relations to Queen Anne. The Jacobite movement’s ideology was to get George I off the throne and put James Stuart, Queen Anne’s half brother who was a Roman Catholic, on the throne instead.

"Shelley Sackier does a good job integrating the historical content and the romance together in a way where one doesn’t overpower the other while also doing a good job of showing that every story has two sides."

Jenna’s father Malcolm MacDuff works in a group of stonemasons who travel around Scotland in search of work which comes in the form of commissioned buildings. The group aren’t just simple stonemasons but are, however, Freemasons who are also sympathetic to the Jacobite cause. During their commissions, they travel around the area, collecting money to put James on the throne and trying to persuade people to join the movement. This work is highly dangerous since it counts as treason where the penalty is death.

The FREEMASON’S DAUGHTER starts with Jenna and the Freemasons leaving Scotland to work for the Duke of Keswick. They were hired to build a garrison on his family estate in England. While living there, Jenna just can't seem to stop running into Lord Pembroke, the Duke’s handsome son. Instantly, a spark is ignited and Jenna and the Lord become more and more enthralled with each other every day. Only there’s a problem. Lord Pembroke is betrothed to Lady Lucia, a selfish and irritating woman whose mother will stop at nothing to ensure their marriage.

But Jenna has bigger problems to deal with. With the people on the estate growing ever the more suspicious of the group’s activities and allegiances, Jenna has to constantly watch out or the price for slipping up just might be her head.

Shelley Sackier does a good job integrating the historical content and the romance together in a way where one doesn’t overpower the other while also doing a good job of showing that every story has two sides. In relation to this, however, the story at times can be a little unbelievable as there are many different things happening that confuse the plot and at points it doesn’t really historically make sense. 

Jenna is a strong character. She is intelligent, fights for what she believes in and is good at heart. Yet sometimes she can be too much of this. For a girl living in the 18th century, she is extremely well educated. She can speak three languages, compute multivariable calculus and reads Isaac Newton’s Cambridge lectures for fun. In a time when only one in four women were literate, this kind of schooling for someone who is as low birth as Jenna is virtually impossible.

If you are a fan of historical fiction I would definitely give THE FREEMASON’S DAUGHTER a try. You will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by Zoe I., Teen Board Member on May 25, 2017

The Freemason's Daughter
by Shelley Sackier