Monday, March 3, 2014

The World Turned Upside Down by HW Coyle

"The World Turned Upside Down," by HW Coyle is a really unique, wonderful and well-written historical novel set in the context of a serendipitous gender transformation. It is also a novel about the rights of women, betrayal, bargaining chips, expert negotiations and military strategy.

As the story unfolds, a series of tragic events virtually forces the male-born main character into a female gender role, a seamless transformation accomplished in a most unusual and creative manner. Unlike most gender change novels, the main protagonist is not motivated by dysphoric feelings or the emergence of the female persona of an intersex infant mislabeled at birth. There is no divine intervention or magic spell at work, only a confluence of unusual events playing out and resulting in a heroic decision on the part of our hero/heroine. What happens afterwards is somewhat reflective of a Shakespearean tragedy where individuals are trapped in the web of great events and can never extract themselves.

In addition to the unique gender transformation aspect and the wonderful characterizations that the author brings to life in most realistic fashion, Coyle has us meet some of the great figures in American and British history. The novelist obviously did her research on the subject and displays a wonderful knowledge of the politics, battles, key figures and logistics of the American Revolution. I particularly enjoyed her vivid descriptions of New York City as it was back then, replete with references to the "Village of Greenwich" (now, of course called Greenwich Village).

I found it extremely interesting and quite moving to look back some 250 years to the founding and the raison d'ĂȘtre for the United States of America. It makes one think of the way things were back then and at other times when patriots rallied together for a common cause. It gives one pause to see how we have veered off our original mission so dramatically and how special interest groups have nearly immobilized and brought the political process of the United States to its knees. This begs the question, "Is it only all-out war against a common enemy that unites our feelings for the common good?" But, that is just an aside. Buy this book. I found it well worth the money!

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