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3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  826 Ratings  ·  244 Reviews

“Tis a small canvas, this Boston,” muses Stewart Jameson, a Scottish portrait painter who, having fled his debtors in Edinburgh, has washed up on America’s far shores. Eager to begin anew in this new world, he advertises for an apprentice, but the lad who comes knocking is no lad at all. Fanny Easton is a lady in disguise, a young, fallen woman from Boston’s most prominent

Hardcover, 500 pages
Published December 9th 2008 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2008)
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Mar 26, 2009 Joanne rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I just loved the first third or so of this book. It's a historical novel set in Boston during the 1770s and is told as an epistolary novel, alternating between the male protagonist, a painter, and the female protagonist, the painter's apprentice, who is a fallen-from-society woman pretending to be a boy so that she can work. It's full of witty banter and the authors are American history professors, so it also felt as if the settings and descriptions and dialogue were real. Just wonderful.

And the
Dec 23, 2008 Sharon rated it really liked it
Those who read my reviews regularly know that I deplore poorly researched historical fiction. Unfortunately, there is such a plethora of poorly researched historical fiction available today that I begin each book with a sense of trepidation.

Fortunately, "Blindspot" is not only well-researched but also entertaining. This semi-epistolary novel finds portrait painter Stewart Jameson newly arrived in Boston on the eve of the American Revolution. His ad for an apprentice is answered by one "Francis W
Jake Rideout
Jul 13, 2009 Jake Rideout rated it it was amazing
Blindspot is a masterpiece of teamwork. Kamensky and Lepore, both history professors, have brought alive pre-Revolutionary Boston in the most charming way imaginable: the tale of Stewart Jameson, exiled Scottish portraitist, and Fannie Easton, fallen-socialite-turned-apprentice. As Fannie Easton—or, as she comes to be known, Francis Weston—struggles to make sense of her new situation, Jameson finds himself caught up in the politics of colonial Boston. What begins as a comedy of errors, with Jame ...more
May 24, 2009 Alastair rated it really liked it
I may well have been blind to this book's failings because it is historical fiction written by, & I daresay for, historians. I mean that it was exhilarating for me to read an imaginative reconstruction of 18th century Boston, reconstructed with good evidence but also with two other important ingredients: the power to flesh out historical evidence with 'real life', & also the fantasy to 'redeem' history by writing a narrative which ends with a kind of justice. I would be tempted to assign ...more
Jan 07, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading about this period in American history and was intrigued enough to follow the authors' link to learn more about real-life art and biographies from which the novel is drawn. At the risk of sounding prudish (for who wants to be accused of that! lol) I did not think the book needed the steamy scenes to sell the story.
Sep 20, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
Henry Fielding has been channeled in this murder mystery and titillating transvestite tale that is rife with political pull and painting practices, and stacked with sniggering slang. The authors have used Fielding’s writing technique he introduced in Tom Jones, wherein the narrator addresses the audience directly while presenting, explaining, or mollifying the sensitive reader to certain material. They have expanded his technique employed in Joseph Andrews (or Shamela for that matter) in which p ...more
Apr 29, 2009 Lori rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lori by: NYT Book Review
Shelves: 2009april
My hold shelf at the library is always filled with surprises. When the stack on my bedside shelf starts to get short, I do a crosscheck: If it's on my to-read list and available at the library, I put it on hold.

Sometimes, the book has been on my to-read list for a year or more. Sometimes a friend just mentioned it. Nine times out of ten, I have absolutely no idea why I flagged it as a book of interest.

So, Blindspot stunned me a little. It's historical fiction, set in Boston before the Revolutio
K. Jarboe
I think the authors were trying to make a nod at novel conventions, so I can overlook the trite mystery and romance aspects of it. As a few other people mentioned, the sex scenes seem out of place and a bit overboard, but what really got me was the way Fanny's reveal as a woman became such a big deal. She immediately starts wearing women's clothes around the house, and acting the lady somehow even though she has more than proven that such roles are based on nothing, and her romance with Jameson ...more
Jan 09, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lani, Rachel, Cranky
Recommended to Jennifer by: Women & Children First Bookstore

Okay, if you've read a lot of Jane Austen and other 18th/19th century stuff, and you've laughed your way through some romance novels, and you like slave narratives, and you like detective fiction, and you have some fascination with pre-Revolutionary War Boston and enjoy a good historical novel, and you like things to be structured in diary entries and letters, then this book might be for you. Oh, did I mention the whole genderbendy part, with a woman disguised as a boy falling in lurv
Sep 18, 2011 Marie rated it really liked it
If I could give this 3.5 stars I would. I found the first 1/2 - 3/4 funny, engaging, and interesting. It totally immerses you into Boston right before the Revolution- language, clothing, art, politics, social classes, everything. The characters were witty and likeable and the romance suspenseful. Then there was a period where I felt irritated by the extreme sexuality. Then when the characters got a grip on their lustful appetites and got back to the mystery part of the story, it somehow felt ove ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
I don't know whether it was because the characters were so likable, because I live in Boston, or because I saw the authors speak and they looked like they had such fun writing it that I enjoyed this book so much. It got a tad melodramatic at times, but for the most part I really got into this story and loved it.
Feb 11, 2010 Scot rated it really liked it
I was charmed by this homage to eighteenth century fiction not in small part because it is written by two history professors from Boston (the main setting of the story) who know the period and its literature well, so their appreciation of how Enlightenment politics, fine art practices, entertainments, and conflicting attitudes on slavery played out in the 1760s is both instructive and entertaining. The hero and heroine, both talented portrait artists, are also witty and capable of the sort of ba ...more
Jul 04, 2012 Billy rated it really liked it
Solid historical fiction...,

The tale told here is complicated: a woman of stature but fallen from grace takes a painting apprentice position but must dress as a boy to do so; the painter is a runaway debtor, newly arrived in New England; the painter's friend is an educated black man who was sold in to slavery and escapes to his friend; a murder takes place, a slave is blamed and a mystery ensues; the beginnings of the American Revolution are the backdrop for this all.

The story is vividly told, t
Aug 22, 2010 Sue rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-history
Summer reading, perhaps? The story is a light look at a tease between two people, one a man, the other a woman disguised as a man (you can guess the mischief that results), both cloaked in a historical guise; an Agatha Christie-type light and somewhat entertaining murder mystery (a little too racy for my taste); a friendship between a white man and a highly educated black man in a time when such relationships were highly unlikely and were frowned upon by social custom; and a few other gems to ke ...more
Sep 01, 2009 Jeri rated it it was amazing
I do not like history novels. That being said, I completely loved this book. I found it at an independent bookstore, and had never heard anything about it. But the cover looked interesting, so I bought it. Where it sat on my to-read pile. For months. Once I finally, grudgingly, picked it up, I could barely sleep until I finished it! Charming characters who you actually care about tell the story. He is a Scottish painter who flees his debts on the other side of the pond and sets up his easel in B ...more
Mar 31, 2009 Haley rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.

I have to say, it's not my usual genre. I honestly picked it up because it was a free advance copy, and now I feel like I want to go buy another copy just to encourage these authors to write more. Yes, the way it turned into a romance novel toward the end was a bit much and unnecessary, and I'm still not certain how I feel about the ending, but it was so very worth reading that I don't mind.

It was one of the only books I've ever read where, when finished, I had to seriously st
Mar 30, 2016 Rochelle rated it really liked it
This book seized my attention from the first page and held me captive! Disguise, detecting, art, rebellion and history all in one book.
Susan Berry
Oct 27, 2016 Susan Berry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like American Revolution historical fiction that is written in diary/letter form along with historical accounts (snippets of newspaper articles and the like), and portions of historically-significant works, you will like Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore’s Blindspot. This is one of the books from my Goodreads wish list from 2011.

Stewart Jameson is an Scot in exile, escaping his debtors who seek to put him in prison. He is a Scot, whose good heart lands him in the predicament that forces him
Oct 18, 2016 Suzyq rated it did not like it
This book was great in concept, but terrible in execution. The voices of the two authors did not work well together, despite the fact that they represented journals and diaries of different characters. Added to that, the book began in a relatively light-hearted tone, which made me feel quite betrayed when the story took a deep dive into much darker territory.
Nancy Ingersoll
Jan 11, 2017 Nancy Ingersoll rated it liked it
This book intrigued me because it's set in pre Revolutionary War era Boston and it's about a painter and his apprentice. I thought it was going to be more about pre-war Boston, it turned out to be more of a love story. Would make a good beach read as it definitely kept my attention.
Feb 18, 2009 Laura rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An enjoyable read, if a bit perplexing at times solely due to my feeling that I was being shifted back and forth from one genre to another all the way through. I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, or by the synopsis on the back of it, but I think that a synopsis should at least give a flavor of the contents. Reading the back cover of this (audio) book, one would think this was going to be a nice historical murder mystery. It is that, if you're willing to wait until about halfway through ...more
Jul 22, 2012 Hilary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
The lives of a formerly privileged but now fallen woman, a painter fleeing debts incurred to save the life of a friend, and an escaped slave with a brilliant mind but a cool heart intersect in pre-revolutionary Boston. The tale is told in alternating chapters between the painter and the woman, who has disguised herself as a boy to become his apprentice.

Sounds fascinating, right? Sadly, no.

If this book were any slower, it would be moving backwards. The wordiness of the narrators, the flogging of
This novel follows two narrators, Fanny Easton and Stewart Jameson, who both find themselves in trouble in mid-18th century Boston. Stewart is running from debtors back in Scotland and England, and Fanny has been living in the Manufactory for three years since she left her father's house for the streets. At the opening of the story, she decides to masquerade as a young boy.

Both are talented artists, which is how their stories end up intertwined: Jameson advertises for an apprentice in the local
Jan 08, 2015 Patty rated it really liked it
A novel set in pre-Revolution Boston, about Stewart Jameson (a Scottish painter who has fled to the New World in an attempt avoid his debts and old enemies) and Fanny Easton (the daughter of one of the richest men in Boston, who due to having an illegitimate child and making some bad choices ended up disowned, living on the streets, and then in a workhouse; currently disguising herself as a boy to become Jameson's apprentice). They're eventually joined by Jameson's best friend Dr. Ignatius Alexa ...more
Drew Jameson
Sep 11, 2010 Drew Jameson rated it it was ok
A full-on, saucy corset-fest with cross-dressing, Revolutionary history and more double entendres than you can shake a cod (OK, that was a triple entendre, just ask me) at.
I definitely enjoyed the frippery, puffery, bosh and flimshaw, the bawdy wit, and the constant use of the (probably-fictional) period adjective "shitten". Although, after several chapters, the perpetual obvious "Tis what she said" puns grew awfully tiresome. I definitely did NOT enjoy the too-modern/self-aware/PC opinions of t
Feb 10, 2013 Leya rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
The book is written in journal entries and letter format. Usually I am not a fan of this format but I enjoyed in this book. It added to the story. I found myself while reading it wondering what would happen in the next entry or letter.

The setting of the story was wonderful, the authors description of Boston during the time was interesting and very vivid in my opinion. It may have helped that I recently watched the John Adams mini-series, so Boston and the area (of Revolutionary time) was still
Pamela Pickering
This book was hitting a strong 4-5 star rating with me at first. I loved the writing, the method in which the story was told, and the historical pictures/accuracy. The authors paint an exquisite picture of American colonial life and culture not only with descriptions but with the style of dialogue. Although some readers may be put off by the method of the story telling I found it quite entertaining and effective. One part of the story is told through the male protagonists writing to the "reader" ...more
Mar 12, 2009 Marie rated it really liked it
I was so excited for this book- a historical fiction written by two well-known and very well respected historians. And I enjoyed the book immensely. It's a really good historical fiction novel without being too sappy, but I'm not sure it lived up to all the hype surrounding it. I expected more- I wanted a bibliography (other historical novels sometimes supply this), I wanted a closer rendition to what actually happened, or at least an opaque connection to historical actors. Instead, this is a no ...more
Feb 18, 2009 Stacey rated it really liked it
A fun escape book that kept me turning pages during the first part, which was full of lust and Shakespearian hidden identities with a painting subplot, set in pre-revolutionary New England. The heroine was too modern to be fully believeably from the 17th century, but the light tone of the prose made me not care. Once the hero and heroine got together, the story tried to become a serious examination of slavery and lost its charm.

I was bored and/or annoyed every time the slave Alexander opened his
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