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The Orphanmaster Hardcover – Large Print, June 19, 2012
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Praise for The Orphanmaster:
“The Orphanmaster is a sweeping novel of great and precise imaginative intelligence; it's also the most entertaining and believable historical novel I've read in years. Jean Zimmerman is a debut novelist who already writes like an old master. Read any page of The Orphanmaster and you'll become an instant fan.” – Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng
“Jean Zimmerman's seventeenth-century New Amsterdam teems with enough intrigue, lust, and madness to give our twenty-first-century Big Apple a run for its money. And money is what drives this book – liberating, corrupting, forming the only bulwark against a terrifying, chaotic New World. Zimmerman's wit and humanity shine light in a dark woods, creating an uncommonly rich debut.” – Sheri Holman, author of The Dress Lodger
“Here’s American history turned inside out, animated by Jean Zimmerman’s prodigious imagination. Monsters lurk in the shadows, chaos presses in, legends come alive, and one adventure leads with irresistible force to the next. The Orphanmaster is a breathtaking achievement.” – Joanna Scott, author of Arrogance and Various Antidotes
“[A] compulsively readable, heartbreaking, and grisly mystery set in a wild colonial America.” – ALA Booklist
“A feisty young Dutch woman, an English spy, and a local demon all cross paths in 1663 New Amsterdam, in this Ludlumesque historical thriller…a successful mix of historical fiction, spy thriller, and horror.” – Library Journal
"As in the best historical fiction, [Zimmerman] has created a kind of truce between the authority of the past and the accessibility of the present, revealing to us what it once meant to be alive, and what that history means to us now ... on nearly every page there is some unobtrusively offered word or description, of food, of architecture, of dress, that brings the period and its people into clearer focus." – USA Today
"Absorbing period fiction with the requisite colorful characters of the era." – The New York Daily News
About the Author
Jean Zimmerman was born in Tarrytown, New York. An honors graduate of Barnard College, she is the author of several works of nonfiction, including Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance and The Women of the House: How a Colonial She-Merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune, and a Dynasty. She lives in Ossining, New York.
Top customer reviews
Despite the large number of characters in this mystery of shifting property lines, ghastly torture, and murder, author Zimmerman’s superior skill at character development helps us to understand and empathize with Bandine Van Couvering, a successful female fur trader, and her love, Edward Hammond, a British spy. In this tale of high intrigue, the two are tracked, and frequently targeted by evil doers disguised as paranormal spirits who terrorize the entire colonial population.
Below are a few brief quotes from literally hundreds of examples of this debut novelist handling of character development. Her technique, brief passages and phrases, and using an omniscient point of view allows her to reveal characters by what others think of them.
Blandine Van Couvering: At times she looked up at Blandine as the earthworm must look at the acrobat, in wonder that such things were done. … “Eight hundred guilders.” Miep said, adopting a pious tone whenever money was mentioned. “Take away the cost of he pelt guns,” Blandine said, “and the expenses of this trip totaling perhaps two hundred seventy being generous. Yielding what?” … She had watched the cogs of the young girl’s mind turn, “Five hundred thirty, isn’t it?”
Edward Drummond: Drummond must appear the simple grain merchant, newly arrived in search of his lodgings. He possessed letters of trade that would present him as such.
One thing he enjoyed most about the Dutch, perhaps their best characteristic, was that they were always too busy with their single-minded scurrying about after profit to pay anyone else much mind.
These brief thumbnails of Protagonists Blandine and Edward Hammond grab you from the first page and, delightfully sadistic, don’t let you go till the final page.
In addition, we learn through showing not telling an enormous amount about the colonies and local 17th century Dutch Customs. For this alone, author Zimmerman’s research and its incorporation into “Orphan Master” is awesome. In addition to English and Dutch mores, both in the colonies and in Europe, as well as the local Indian bands, of New England at that time.
Although hanging was a popular sport, aided by trumped up charges, there is plenty of evil to spread around and justice to be done in “Orphan Master.” In the final chapter of the story we are taken on an exciting chase from the point of view of the bad guys as well as the good guys – a sort of 17th century car chase afoot and on horseback holding us enthralled to the end.
Jean Zimmerman’s book, Orphan Master is a truly well done and thrilling book. Don’t miss it.
I loved the historical detail of this novel. There are so few novels written about New Amsterdam, so I was excited to see how much research the author put into it. However, the novel's main topic was too gruesome for me - I skimmed large sections of the novel for this reason. If you liked Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death and Robert McCammon's Mister Slaughter, you'll like The Orphan Master.
Most recent customer reviews
Though there's a mystery at the heart of this story, the book's strongest suit is its depiction of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in the 1660s.Read more