I was really hoping that this book would finally explain the War of 1812 to me, but alas, even the characters involved seem confused. Whispers of War: The War of 1812 Diary of Susanna Merritt by Kit Pearson is about 12-year-old Susanna in the first few months of the war. I can definitely see how it would be a confusing time. The generation of American loyalists who fled the Revolution are now parents in Upper Canada and faced with the prospect of fighting their homeland.
If I’ve gotten it right, the War of 1812 is sort of a spillover of multiple wars: the Revolutionary War, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. France supported America during the Revolution, France and Britain are currently at war and Upper Canada is firmly in British hands, so by proxy they are also at war with France, who is a staunch ally of America.
So far as I can tell, Susanna seems to be based on a real person. Her historical father is Thomas Merritt, the Sheriff of Niagara and her brother is William Hamilton Merritt who was influential in the area with his work on the Welland Canal. I couldn’t find any actual mention of a Susanna Merritt, but at least her family existed.
The plot reminds me a little of Anne of Green Gables, where it’s very much about a young girl and her enjoying life, being picked on by the boy she later marries and her adventures. She experiences the war first hand, is at Niagara when the cannons of the Americans burst through the walls.
I kind of wish it went a little longer into the war, since it extends into 1815 and is fought all through eastern/southern America and eastern Canada. Still, it’s an interesting take on the early months and it’s from a perspective we don’t often see in war.
It’s not my favourite of the series so far, but it was still an enjoyable read.
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