Elaine Cougler has written a wonderful trilogy, The Loyalist Trilogy, and the third book, The Loyalist Legacy recently released just in time for the holidays. This trilogy follows the stories of a family over generations who are Ontario-area Canadian loyalists to the Crown during the time of the American Revolution. I’ve featured Elaine many times before: you can read a review of her first book, The Loyalist’s Wife, HERE, which beings the story of John and Lucy; you can read my review of her second book, The Loyalist’s Luck, HERE, which continues their war torn story in Niagara area; you can read an interview I did with Elaine after book two came out HERE. This can all give you a great idea about this exciting trilogy if you’d not yet read any of them. Here is the cover and synopsis for the third book, stay tuned below for my review!
The Loyalist Legacy, Synopsis –
After the crushing end of the War of 1812, William and Catherine Garner find their allotted two hundred acres in Nissouri Township by following the Thames River into the wild heart of Upper Canada. On their valuable land straddling the river, dense forest, wild beasts, displaced Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William knows he cannot take his family back to Niagara but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and their children, he hurries back along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return home in time for spring planting. With spectacular scenes of settlers recovering from the wartime catastophes in early Ontario, Elaine Cougler shows a different kind of battle, one of ordinary people somehow finding the inner resources to shape new lives and a new country. The Loyalist Legacy delves further into the history of the Loyalists as they begin to disagree on how to deal with the injustices of the powerful “Family Compact” and on just how loyal to Britain they want to remain.
The Loyalist Legacy, which as I noted is book three, continues on the story of the next generation – William, the son of John and Lucy Garner. William and Catherine Garner are the focus of this book (so you could conceivably start with this one and go back to book one for the back story). William and his family are living in Upper Canada after the brutality of the War of 1812. They haven’t heard from his family in two years and he’s grown increasingly concerned.
The story opens with Catherine in distress, much as A Loyalist’s Wife did many years ago with Lucy. William has left to head back to Niagara to check on his family. Catherine is left with their growing family, and work at home and in her husband’s absence, to attend to, while navigating the harsh wilds of the area and the strong political climate. It reminded me of Lucy in the first book as she was left straddling when John was away in the war. Elaine once again shines in giving the reader strong female characters and showing us the perils of many a woman at the time of such upheaval. Her women are always historical super heroes!
As well, on the other side of the coin, she constructs good male characters. I love her male characters, because though they always seem to need to leave their wives in her tales for certain reasons, they don’t like it. And when they are with their families, they are excellent family men. Life is hard and they do what they have to do, but overall, these men are compassionate, loving, and loyal to those they love. They are also fiercely wise. Those are important traits for men. I don’t think we often see men from this era being written with such empathy. They are usually pretty sterile or hated characters in history. I really love how Elaine gives us real people we can be connected to and be pulled toward – both male and female.
Once again, I love Elaine’s scenic details. I’ve learned so much about Niagara and Upper Canada during this time period from her work. I can easily visualize it from her descriptions and set a scene in my head. Being in the U.S., but just down from this area, it was really interesting to understand that much of what they were dealing with in regards to elements, war, Native Americans, etc. It’s so interesting from my perspective here in Ohio reading about how things were so similar for people in the part of the U.S. and Canada at this time, even if they had to fight for different sides. The ramifications of the war on families and cultures is evident no matter who’s side they identified on. I think Elaine’s book is so important as it’s one of few to really give us an inside glimpse at loyalists who lived Canada during the time they were made to fight in the war and the times following. I think we tend to skip over learning all of this here in America and just see all loyalists as British who came over from England to fight and then returned. Many were actually just normal pioneers and colonists as well. It’s a curious thing to actually be taught Canadian history and this series makes me want to delve into it even further.
I don’t like to give too much of the plot away in my reviews. If you’re a constant reader of my reviews you’ll notice that. I want you to enjoy the experience of all the plot points for yourself. But I will say that I do believe this is the BEST book by Elaine in this whole series. Her writing feels more free, and comfortable, in its own skin. It flows fuller and with more emotion. Her character development has more strength and her characters more complex – even John and Lucy as we’ve watched them grow over the years are more dimensional than ever. Her descriptions, as I stated previously, are nestled into all the right places and create such a visual dynamic that allow her characters to dance off the page.
After showing us the wages of war in book two, in The Loyalist’s Legacy she brings to us lives that are being pieced back together in a stymied and yet pivotal political climate that’s also ripe with change. The arrival of the “Family Compact” and this brotherhood’s opposition to democracy is explored in this book, as is the way it separated actual brothers and families in their loyalties and decisions. The meaning of the term loyalist comes into question as rebellion stirs just as new designations are being formed. Elaine explores the rebellion of 1837 which disseminated the Family Contract and the pursuit of establishing aristocracy but instead a mixed monarchy. Elaine shows how, in fact, families like those she portrays weren’t aristocracy, but people who lived off the land. We can better see through her portrayal, the alternate view of some of the situations. It was fascinating how such common people such as this family of farmers helped create such a lasting legacy on the futures of Canada, America, and Britain.
I applaud Elaine for putting together such a stellar set in The Loyalist Trilogy, and am so happy to report that The Loyalist Legacy does in fact end the trilogy in grand finale fashion. I am not ready for it to end though. As we learn so much about all of John and Lucy’s children, I wish for more stories of them as history unfolds. The Loyalist Legacy is a beacon in the historical world that shows us how common families can survive through not only the harsh climates they lived in and homesteading, but the political machinations too. I love that Elaine’s families remained first and foremost loyal and loving to each other, no matter if everything tried to tear them apart.
A beautifully written, immaculately researched, deeply descriptive novel full of heart and the true power of freedom – which only comes from within one’s own heart. A great testament to Canadian history and to the life of the author’s ancestors.
I highly recommend!
Praise for Elaine Cougler and The Loyalist Trilogy of Books –
“….absolutely fascinating….Cougler doesn’t hold back on the gritty realities of what a couple might have gone through at this time, and gives a unique view of the Revolutionary War that many might never have considered.” – Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews.
“….an intriguing story” – A Bookish Affair
“I highly recommend this book for any student of history or anyone just looking for a wonderful story.” – Book Lovers Paradise
“Elaine’s storytelling is brave and bold.” – Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Purchase The Loyalist Legacy
Elaine Cougler, Biography
Elaine Cougler is the author of historical novels about the lives of settlers in the Thirteen Colonies who remained loyal to Britain during the American Revolution.
Cougler uses the backdrop of the conflict for page-turning fictional tales where the main characters face torn loyalties, danger and personal conflicts.
Her Loyalist trilogy: The Loyalist’s Wife, The Loyalist’s Luck and The Loyalist Legacy coming in 2016. The Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair selected The Loyalist’s Wife as a finalist in its Self-Publishing Awards. The Middlesex County Library selected the book as its choice for book club suggestions. The Writers Community of Durham Region presented Elaine with a Pay-It-Forward Award.
Elaine has led several writing workshops and has been called on to speak about the Loyalists to many groups. She writes the blog, On Becoming a Wordsmith, about the journey to publication and beyond. She lives in Woodstock with her husband. They have two grown children.
VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE for The Loyalist Legacy