This book was about the interesting and often neglected subject of Confederate agents working in Canada, particularly in the Maritime Provinces, during the War Between The States/American Civil War/other term of your choice. There were genuine concerns in British Canada of an invasion by the United States, possibly in tandem with pro-Irish independence activists, and some concerns in the United States that Britain would back the Confederacy. However, the main issue was the genuine hope held by many in the Confederacy that Britain (and possibly France) would enter the war on their side.
I won’t go into the differing views held by people in Britain, or I’ll be here all day … Abraham Lincoln’s letter to the working men of Manchester thanking them for their support, Liverpool being the most Confederate city outside the Confederacy, and all that! This book is, as the title suggests, concerned mainly with events in Halifax, Nova Scotia and, whilst most of the characters and some of the events are fictitious, they’re based on real life occurrences, and include the major diplomatic incident which was the seizure of the American steamship “Chesapeake” by Confederate sympathisers from Canada.
Good stuff. And it includes a romance between an upper-class British spy and a girl who’s recently moved to Nova Scotia from Lancashire. And that is where the book falls down! Could the author not have bothered to do just a little bit of research into British regional dialects?! Our heroine, who is originally from Darwen and has also lived in Rochdale, speaks as if she comes from deepest Somerset! No-one from Lancashire goes around saying “I be” or “M’appen”. You might as well show someone from Boston speaking in a Charleston drawl. It grated on me all the way through the book. Either do your research properly or don’t use dialect at all. Also, why are some authors (mostly North Americans, it has to be said) apparently incapable of distinguishing between “England” and “Britain”. She repeatedly used “England/English” where she should have used “Britain/British”, and even used “England/English” in reference to characters whom she’d said were from Scotland! It’s careless, and it’s annoying, and some people might even find it offensive.
An interesting storyline and an interesting setting, but the issue with the accents showed a lack of proper research, and the England/Britain issue was just annoyingly careless.