New York City serves as the backdrop for much of the action in the novel. It is in New York City where the Queen's Ball is thrown. New York was the center of activity, and a domain where British troops believed a stronghold to exist. In the early stages of the Revolutionary War, the British were able to find successes in New York. However, it becomes clear that the Colonists will not acquiesce to British power so easily. The novel shows this preceding the Queen's Ball, as Hawkins begins to worry about Patriot advances.
It is in this condition where the British forces in New York throw a Queen's Ball for Queen Charlotte's birthday. Isabel speaks to this when she suggests that "the notion of a ball for a queen confuddled me. 'That's a long voyage for a celebration." This idea reflects how the celebration was in New York, "a long voyage" from England. It is in this assertion where the ball is set in New York City. While it was billed as a celebration for the monarchy, the reality is that it serves as an excuse for British soldiers to celebrate and revel. The setting of New York is significant because the Queen's Ball is a chance for the British to relive the nostalgia of a life that is not present with Patriotic advances and victories. The American spirit of resistance is in stark contrast to the celebratory timbre of the British. The Queen's Ball being set in New York City helps to bring out this dichotomy, akin to someone celebrating while the end of their world is eerily adjacent.