This book was written 50 years ago, in 1959, and it is older than I am. I read this book for the first time in the 6th grade and have loved it ever since. I’ve read this book five times, the last time in my early 40’s and it was still as interesting and educational as the first time. This book made the Revolutionary War come alive for me. After reading it I realized the Revolution was no longer just a bunch of dates and facts from school textbooks, but rather an actual event that happened to actual people. This book instilled a love of history for me that I was able to pass onto my daughters. I’ve searched and found copies on amazon & ebay for my daughters who have enjoyed it as much as I have. This book was reprinted in 2008 and is much easier to find now, than when I searched it out ten years ago.
One thing that is really nice about this book is that it manages to deal with mature subjects like war, politics, hunger, betrayal and still remains ‘G’ rated. Something I find rather refreshing compared to most books that are written today. Proof that fiction doesn’t need overly-graphic descriptions to bring a sense of reality to the work.
The 1959 original, inside dust jacket reads [with a few comments by me]:
Celia Garth is a story about a girl who wanted things to happen to her.
Celia lived in Charleston, South Carolina , during the American Revolution. She had blond hair and brown eyes and a sassy face, and she worked in a fashionable dressmaking shop. [These first two paragraphs for some reason remind me of a description for an American Girl doll. She is not a girl, she is a young woman, aged 20.]
Things did happen to Celia, but not as she planned. The king’s army captured Charleston. The ravisher Tarleton swept through the Carolina countryside in a wave of blood, fire and debauchery [where else but in these old classic books do you find words like ‘ravisher’ and ‘debauchery’]. Caught up in the ruin were Celia and her friends–the merry minded Darren; Jimmy, whose love for Celia brought her into his tragedy; the fascinating Vivian, five times married; Godfrey, rich and powerful who met disaster because he could control anything in town but the weather; the gay [not in today’s sense of the word] daredevil Luke.
Most people thought the Revolution was lost. Many Americans, like Celia’s handsome cousin Roy, joined the king’s side. Then out of the swamps appeared Francis Marion.
Marion was a little man. Marion was also crippled. But as Luke said of him, “When that man’s leading a charge, he looks nine feet tall.”
In the dressmaking shop, Celia became a spy for Marion. She sewed, she smiled sweetly, and in secret she risked her life sending information to this man that the king’s whole army could not catch, the mighty little man to whom Tarleton angrily gave the name “Swamp Fox.”
If you’re looking for something different than the usual beach fare to read this summer I highly recommend this book.