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Masque of Honor: A Historical Novel of the American South
by Sharon Virts

Published: 2021-02-09T00:0
Hardcover : 400 pages
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In this coming-of-age tale set in early 19th century America, two sons of the Virginia aristocracy risk it all to defend their dreams and determine their own destinies.

General Armistead Mason and John “Jack” Mason McCarty are brothers-in-law, second cousins and descendants of ...

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Introduction

In this coming-of-age tale set in early 19th century America, two sons of the Virginia aristocracy risk it all to defend their dreams and determine their own destinies.

General Armistead Mason and John “Jack” Mason McCarty are brothers-in-law, second cousins and descendants of founding father George Mason IV. Ambitious and headstrong, together they set out to find love, acceptance and honor on their own merit. Armistead—by nature a politician—demands respect and strives for perfection. Jack—by inclination a rover—looks to forge his own path. When Armistead is challenged by corruption in the political machine and is denied a seat in the US Congress, the two become embroiled in a bitter dispute that sets in motion an irrevocable chain of events, leading them to the dueling grounds and an outcome that changes everything.

Based on historical events of the 1819 Mason-McCarty duel, Masque of Honor is a story of courage, conviction, and the cost of sacrificing one life to forge another.

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Discussion Questions

1. What does the title "Masque of Honor" convey about this novel?
2. So many of the main characters lost their fathers. Discuss the impact of this early loss on the lives of Armistead, Jack and Lucinda.
3. Power and position were clear drivers of Armistead’s ambition. What was important to Jack and how did his motivation and perspective put him at odds with his cousin?
4. Who bears the greater responsibility for the feud, Jack or Armistead? Why could they not let the conflict go? What was at stake?
5. What symbolism do the jackets worn by the characters represent in the book? William’s coat with the McCarty family crest? The jacket of Armistead’s uniform? Armistead’s overcoat with the heavy skirts?
6. How would you contrast the influences that Sally and Polly had on the lives of their children? How did those influences play out on Armistead and Jack in particular?
7. What impact did Jack’s trip to Natchez have on his outlook on life?
8. How important was Emily’s role in Jack and Lucinda’s relationship and within the family overall.
9. When Jack observes the orphans playing in New York, he asks himself two questions: “Was I ever that happy?”, and “Why not?” What do you think was the answer to his second question?

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