Esther Forbes Mary Gould Davis

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Mary Gould Davis

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

If Jonathan Lyte Tremain never lived in the flesh, he lives vividly with the men of his time in [Johnny Tremain]. So we dare to put him among the people of importance….

This story of Johnny Tremain is almost uncanny in its "aliveness." Esther Forbes's power to create, and to recreate, a face, a voice, a scene takes us as living spectators to the Boston Tea Party, to the Battles of Lexington and of North Creek. It takes us, with Johnny, to the secret meetings of the Sons of Liberty, to the secret training of the Minute Men. We hear and see Samuel Adams and John Hancock and Paul Revere. Over and over again, we share some little incident that makes those days in Boston as exciting and as vital as Washington and London and Moscow are today…. Always the people live as people do live under the pressure of great events. Johnny suffers and doubts, grouches and grows. (p. 44)

Mary Gould Davis, in The Saturday Review of Literature (copyright, 1943, by The Saturday Review Co., Inc.; reprinted with permission), November 13, 1943.