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Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution

About the Book

Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution

Summoned to the gloomy, decaying Drogo Hall by his dying uncle, William, Ambrose Tree listens to William’s disjointed tale of Harry Peake, a poet and performer known as the "Cripplegate Monster." Harry, his back broken in a fire that took the life of his beloved wife, fled his native Cornwall with his eight-year-old daughter, Martha. In London’s seedier pubs and taverns, he ekes out a living for himself and Martha by displaying his grotesquely deformed body and reciting his poetic masterpiece, a fiery ballad about the tyranny of the English king and the cry for freedom arising in the American colonies. Harry’s fame attracts the attention of William’s employer, the celebrated anatomist Lord Drogo, and Harry reluctantly agrees to let the doctor study his spine in return for a bit of extra spending money. The examinations stir up old feelings of shame and humiliation, sending Harry spiraling out of control. Drunk on gin after years of abstinence, he commits an unforgivable act and destroys the one thing that had always sustained him—the devotion of his daughter. With William’s help, Martha escapes from England and the terrors it holds to make a new life for herself in America. The year is 1774 and in the small New England village where Martha is welcomed into her uncle’s family, revolutionary fever is reaching a boiling point. Martha embraces the spirit of rebellion her father captured with such passion in his poetry, but it is the darker side of her father’s legacy that compels Martha to make the fateful choice between her own desires and the cause of the Revolution.

With consummate skill, Patrick McGrath brings to life the squalor and depravity of eighteenth-century London and the hardships and hopes that drove the American colonists to fight for their freedom, weaving history, philosophy, and politics into a captivating family drama. Rich in breathtaking adventure and psychological suspense, Martha Peake is a haunting portrait of human frailty, courage, and redemption.

Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution
by Patrick McGrath

  • Publication Date: May 14, 2002
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0375701311
  • ISBN-13: 9780375701313