In the midst of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, one of Charles Dickens’ most beloved characters is living a full life, adventurous and lusty, but touched by scandal.
Born in rural Lincolnshire in 1721, as a boy, William Fezziwig is displaced from his impoverished home through treachery and left alone in the world. Against the odds, Fezziwig rises to a prominent position in 18th century London when opportunities are presented by a respectable gentleman smuggler who sees promise in the waif.
Prominence brings peril and Fezziwig must brave the War of Jenkins’ Ear in order to pursue trade in Barbados and colonial Charleston, South Carolina. In the Americas there are threats on many fronts, from Spanish warships to his conflicted feelings toward the beguiling Eliza Lucas, heiress to one of the largest plantations in the Carolinas.
Quixotic American Benjamin Franklin and a bevy of eccentric characters destined to become some of history’s most influential figures upend Fezziwig’s desire for a quieter life. Fezziwig finds himself in the position of mentor to his famous friend, as well as a certain ambitious young apprentice in need of lessons on life…and love. Social, political, intellectual, and economic revolution is in the air, and an old mystery resurfaces that could change the course of Fezziwig’s and Franklin’s careers.