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Blindspot: By a Gentleman in Exile & a Lady in Disguise

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,044 ratings  ·  277 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

Audio CD, 19 pages
Published December 9th 2008 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,044 ratings  ·  277 reviews

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Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This could have been a classy book of historical fiction but for some reason the authors decided to make it a bawdy romance going so far as to name a horse "muck" so they could make a rhyme with the word "fuck". Much of this book is serious and worth consideration: slavery in the 1760's colonies, the slave trade, the plantations and all the money to be made, the call for freedom from taxation by the British while subjugating the people bought in Africa, the proper behavior for women in the 1760' ...more
Jake Rideout
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 09, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
S.L. Berry
Oct 21, 2016 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
Jun 10, 2012 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
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
Aug 10, 2010 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Janyce Murray
I was looking forward to a good solid historical fiction set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, especially given the fact that it was written by two history professors. I wasn't expecting it to be primarily a bawdy romance and secondarily a poorly conceived mystery. The main characters were Stewart Jameson, a portrait-painter from Scotland who fled to Boston to avoid debtor's prison, and Francis Weston, a poor starving boy from a workhouse, who Stewart takes on as a painter's apprentice. Weston, unbek ...more
Jun 26, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Actually did not finish. Think Goodreads needs to add this category for those of us who refuse to waste time reading a book we are not enjoying.

Normally I like historical fiction but the writing style of this one just didn't appeal to me. In the first 40 pages or so we had a prologue, a chapter from the main characters POV, a chapter from the main female characters POV, a couple of reports on what the Colonies have to say about British taxes and a chapter on what the British are planning on doin
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 s
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ah yes, let us please have another novel that reveals the shocking and unknown truth that slavery is bad and hurts people! Let us have some bad, bad white hypocrite meanyheads and two slaves at different ends of the spectrum--the erudite and the unlettered, characters who are mere shades beneath the weight of the slavery that overhangs them. Let us be bawdy and anti-Christian multiple times per page. In other words, let us shoehorn modern values into a historical novel without making a readable ...more
Apr 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dropped
This book started out very promisingly. I loved the first 1/3 of the book. Trudged through the second third. And then came upon the ridiculous sex scenes and dropped the book. Purely idiotically written sex scenes. Not worth finishing the book.
Laura Lee
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! At first I wasn't sure then so much fun.
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book seized my attention from the first page and held me captive! Disguise, detecting, art, rebellion and history all in one book.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-t-finish
Can't finish this one. It's just bad.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thank the Heavens I’m finally done with this book! I just really didn’t care too much for it.
David Baer
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this because I recognized the co-author Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States, which I really enjoyed.

The cover blurbs promise "an erudite and entertaining re-creation of colonial America on the brink of the Revolution", as well as "a lusty romance, a murder mystery, and a bit of Americana, all rolled into one big, fat historical romp... Lepore and Kamensky have re-created a fascinating world and brought history hotly alive."

I certainly enjoyed the read, an
Elaine Bidstrup
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the most basic level, this is a book about a printer and his apprentice, set in Boston in 1764. In reality it is much more than that - it is first of all an historical novel of the finest kind. While I certainly studied American History from elementary school through college, this book gave many details of life in colonial Massachusetts that I did not know and certainly couldn't imagine. On another level, it is the story of two flawed people who hide much of their former lives from each othe ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of the book was hilarious, yet historically fascinating. The Hen Club? Are you kidding me, this is ridiculous and yet an accurate depiction of life. The writers are so well read and very clever the diary and letters and characters interactions are genius. When the good Dr arrives the book completely changes tone. It goes from light and sarcastic slowly uncovering the truth about love and power to dark and heavily intellectual and self righteous. The writers never exactly get back ...more
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