Blindspot is a lark, with lessons. First, about sex and slavery in 18th Century Boston, where you didn’t expect to find so much of either. And then, about the writing of serious history as delicious fiction.
Blindspot was undertaken as an experiment, something of an email joke, by ranking professionals who’ve been friends since grad school (Yale): Jane Kamensky, now at Brandeis, and Jill Lepore, of Harvard and The New Yorker magazine.
Told in letters and journals, Blindspot, set in 1764, is a borderline kinky love story about a Scots portrait painter (think: Gilbert Stuart) who’s fled his London debts to Boston, and a passionate, downwardly-mobile 19-year-old daughter of the Boston ruling class who presents herself as a boy so as to get a job as the painter’s assistant. Get it? Frances Easton goes to work as Francis Weston for the portraitist Stewart Jameson. She falls in love with him, of course, and he with her — or him, as he supposes through most of the narrative. Fanny writes: “I felt full prepared to open myself to him, in whatever direction he wanted, Easton or Weston.”