- Felicity Merriman
- Edward Merriman
- Martha Merriman
- Nan Merriman
- Benjamin Davidson
- Elizabeth Cole
- Mrs. Cole
- Lord Dunmore
- Lady Dunmore
- Clarissa Reed
Only in Gunpowder and Tea Cakes
- Captain Brandon
- Peyton Randolph
- Mrs. Hutchinson
- Mrs. Kipling
- Susan Dunmore
- Master Griffith
- Joseph Miller
- Mr. Griggs
- Protagonist: The protagonist recently moved to Willamsburg with her father to live with her grandmother after her mother's death. She feels treated like a little kid by her overprotective father's strict rules and hates disappointing her new friends. She will be a junior interpreter over the summer but does not initially think this is an exciting prospect and only agreed to it because her father wanted her to; she doesn't know what she'll talk to visitors about. She loves animals, wants to be a veterinarian, and was learning guitar from her mother before her passing. She is taken back in time to the 1770s with a miniature portrait necklace when looking into the painting's eyes.
- Dad: The protagonist's father, who calls her "Pumpkin" (and has since she was a little kid). He runs a plumbing business and is a volunteer interpreter in Colonial Willamsburg as a Patriot. After his wife's recent death, he and the protagonist moved to Williamsburg to live with his mother; he was an only child. He has, after his wife's passing, become very strict, overprotective, and restrictive; for example, he does not allow the protagonist to go anywhere after school that hasn't been arraigned in advance, spend time with people he has not met the parents of yet and doesn't know, do any babysitting, or take horseback riding lessons before she is sixteen. He is very into history.
- Grandma: The protagonist's paternal grandmother. She owns an antiques shop in Colonial Williamsburg in an old brick building with a small apartment above it; after her son and granddaughter move back, they live with her and her cat, Muffy. Her husband, a grocer, died before the protagonist was born; when her son was young and in school she kept busy by buying and selling antiques. The shop is very tidy and she only sells items at least a hundred or more years old, and like her son is interested in history.
- Mom: The protagonist's mother, who died last year of an unstated prolonged illness. The protagonist and Dad stopped taking pictures of her as she got sicker; Dad put away every framed picture following her death, which the protagonist wishes he hadn't done. The protagonist misses her a lot and because Dad doesn't talk much about her, the protagonist also doesn't. She never felt like she was being treated like a baby when her mother was alive and thinks things would be much different if she were still around.
- Lauren: One of the protagonist's best friends. She has (the protagonist assumes) freedom to do as she likes and doesn't understand the protagonist's many restrictions from her father. One ending path reveals, when the protagonist calls to learn about her new puppy (a mixed breed, eight weeks old, white with some black spots she thinks she'll name Pepper) and apologizes for hurting her feelings by following her dad's strict rules, that Lauren wishes her parents were more strict with her. They are divorced and Lauren feels that they don't care what she does or where she goes and are too permissive. The reason she was allowed to pick out a puppy is because shortly afterwards her mother told her she is going on a weekend trip with her new boyfriend; basically her new puppy is a "consolation" prize. Since her dad is busy with his new family she can't stay with him, so she's going to be watched by her grandpa who only watches TV. This leads to the protagonist asking her and her grandfather to come over for supper the next day, as it is clear that Lauren feels abandoned by her parents.
- Amara: One of the protagonist's best friends. She is black and does African dance and ballet; her mother, also part of the dance group, was born in Senegal.
- Ms. Demming: The protagonist's teacher.
Opening and Potential Plot Events
The last bell of the day rings and Ms. Demming reminds the class that their persuasive citizenship essays are due on Monday before they leave in a rush; it's spring and no one wants to dally. The protagonist thinks the assignment--the role everyday people play in government--is boring and she hasn't started yet. Her friends, Lauren and Amara, are waiting in the hall. She asks them if they've started their essays. Amara says she's almost done and when Lauren calls her a show off, explains that her parents won't allow her to attend any extracurricular activities if she hasn't finished her homework including her African dance group (she has a rehearsal that evening and a performance the next day). Lauren says that like the protagonist she hasn't started yet, as she has something more important to think about that day--her mother is taking her to the animal shelter to pick out a new puppy. She kept it a secret to surprise them and asks both the protagonist and Amara to walk home with her and her mother can drive them home afterwards. Amara takes out her phone to call her parents and let them know she's going, but the protagonist forces herself to decline and says she has to go home. When Amara says she can call her dad to ask, the protagonist explains that her dad won't let her go; when Amara then asks about asking her grandmother, the protagonist again explains her dad's rule and apologizes. After uncomfortable silence, her friends leave together and she leaves for her grandmother's antique's shop.
As she arrives and calls out to her grandmother, she is surprised to see her and her father come from the back office; her father's plumbing business makes him rarely home so early. When he asks after the protagonist's day, she tells him all about the new puppy Lauren is going to pick out and asks if she can go and they meet them at the shelter. Her father says no and that he was only there for a minute and must leave due to an emergency call. When the protagonist tries to bargain, he says no again because he hasn't met Lauren's mother and the protagonist will have later time to play with the puppy; she is disappointed because she wants to help pick it. She can't have a dog as the apartment is too small and Grandma thinks a dog would be too much trouble, though they have a yellow cat named Muffy. Dad tells her to cheer up and reminds her that tomorrow is a Daddy-Daughter day at Colonial Williamsburg. The protagonist thinks that's not nearly as fun as picking out a puppy.
After Dad leaves the protagonist complains that it's not fair how her father is so strict, with the example of how she's been denied horseback lessons until she's sixteen after asking last week. Her grandmother explains how Dad doesn't want her to get hurt and the rule about knowing where she is and who she's with is to keep her safe. The protagonist explains that she feels as if he doesn't trust her with another example of being denied to baby sit and asks Grandma to talk with him. Grandma explains how she can't second guess her father's rules and changes the subject to ask after school. The protagonist is vague about it, only saying she has homework. Grandma says she has homework too after a new treasure she got that day and leads the protagonist to see it in the glass case it's in: a miniature portrait pendant that has been hand painted on a necklace. The protagonist asks what good it is and Grandma explains that it's from 1775 and that in a time before photos and videos, people used them to keep memories close. Hearing this, the protagonist thinks that the portrait might have been painted because the lady was so sick she would soon die, like her mother did last year. Her father removed all the pictures of her mom shortly after she passed and so she doesn't have one of her own.
Grandma says they should go upstairs and cook dinner together, spaghetti. The protagonist asks to stay downstairs and gets out a cleaning cloth to pretend to do chores, but in actuality thinking about the missed opportunity with the puppy and her mother have made her both mad and sad and she wants to be alone. Grandma says she'll see her upstairs, flips the sign on the door to closed, and leaves. The protagonist does a swipe on the case, then opens it to look at the miniature, thinking that--despite the old-fashioned clothes--she looks like her late mother in her expression. She is overcome with sadness at the though of her mother and how much she lost with her. and while she knew she would, she didn't know how much she would lose along with her. Before her illness, Mom was giving the protagonist guitar lessons (the guitar is now under her bed); she also baked butterscotch brownies (her husband's favorite and now making them makes him sad), and encouraged the protagonist to pursue her dreams and that she could do anything she set her mind to. She picks up the miniature and thinks that the subject looks kind and understanding and is looking right into her eyes. She then feels dizzy and the picture blurs, and she grips the miniature so as not to drop it--before she is suddenly transported back in time.
She finds herself behind a hedge outside and hears commotion--running, yelling, and hoofbeats--on the other side. She tries to hurry through to see what is going on but trips making her way through the opening and lands on the oyster-shell-covered walkway. A girl (Felicity) says it's a poor day to stumble and to take care, and when the protagonist sees her purple dress asks if she's a volunteer to which Felicity says the fall must have addled her since only boys can volunteer. As she's helped to her feet, the protagonist takes in her surroundings and realizes that she is in Williamsburg, and can see the Governor's Palace; many people are moving around. She looks down to see she's in a dress like the girl's but it's cream with little blue flowers and a kerchief and feels tight around her. Felicity introduces herself properly and the protagonist offers her own (unstated). When Felicity asks if she's new to the city, the protagonist--thinking still she is in the present--"plays along" to find out what's going on and learns that since the plot to steal the colonists' gunpowder from the Magazine and the news spreading of it, patriots have been arriving in large numbers to Wiliamsburg. The protagonist thinks everything is super authentic during the "event" until after some people watching, realizing that there are no "visitors," and that the road is unpaved--a paved one she has walked down many times--she realizes that something is wrong and she needs to leave. When Felicity looks away to watch a group of men and boys marching, the protagonist looks at the miniature in her hand, uncurls her hand and is brought back to the present.
She put the miniature back and rushes upstairs to tell Grandma she's returned, but Grandma--who is just reaching for her apron--says she wasn't downstairs on her own very long at all, which lets the protagonist realize that she's back at the same moment she left. The protagonist excuses herself by saying she just came to check on Grandma; Grandma tells her to go ahead and go back downstairs. The protagonist goes back down, initially afraid to even look at the portrait. Worried about Felicity and thinking she was nice for checking on the protagonist in an uproar, she thinks about going back; this is partially because she feels she should have an adventure since she didn't get to go to the shelter--and she doesn't have to ask permission. She picks up the miniature, puts it around her neck to carry it, and looks into the eyes to go back to 1775 returning back behind the hedge and this time making her way out from behind it without falling. Felicity--who noticed she was missing--says she was worried to see her gone and the protagonist says she lost something and has found it, tucking the portrait under her necklace for safety. After some awkwardness--namely, the protagonist referring to what would be present Williamsburg as "Colonial"--the protagonist says that yes, she arrived alone and while she's been there before with her father, she doesn't know where he is which is plausible to Felicity given the excitement. Felicity offers to keep her company.
Ben calls out for Felicity and, upon finding her and seeing her with the protagonist, introduces himself properly with Felicity explaining who he is and then says Felicity was going to Elizabeth's house. Felicity says that she went but no one answered, likely because Mr. and Mrs. Cole are Loyalists. Ben says they should stay out of sight given the high tensions after the attempt to remove the gunpowder (and revealing he is a Patriot in the process). He then says the girls should leave since a mob is forming. Felicity protests that she wants to see what will happen because independent militias are marching to Williamsburg. Ben--revealing the year in the process--says that the rebellion is spreading and that while Felicity may wish to stay, her friend may want to get her torn, dirty dress fixed, and Felicity says they can go to the Merrirmans' home to get the dress repaired by Mother and leading into the first choice.
After this opening, events vary according to choices made.
- Felicity and the protagonist remain to wait for the militia to arrive and see Captain Brandon make a speech, the arrival of Peyton Randolph (who represented Virginia at the continental congress) and his attempt to disperse the growing mob with negotiation and the appearance of Governor Dunmore who initially says the gunpowder was removed due to rumors of a slave uprising and, after being warned by Peyton Randolph that confidence is lacking, says he will pay for taken powder but if any of it is used against his family he will arm the slaves and turn them against their owners. This disperses the angry mob but leads to whispers in the crowd about the threat made. Right after, the protagonist can choose either to remain in the past (and continue to learn things in person) or return home. If she returns home immediately after this--by telling Felicity she saw her father across the green and then going back when she is alone--she helps make dinner and thinks about how her father has been treating her and how she's complained but not told him how she feels. Once he's home the protagonist asks to talk to him before they eat, insisting it's really important; she then talks about how frustrating it was to not go to the shelter, how they can set up a pizza party to meet her friends' families and that she feels he doesn't trust her to make good choices and how she wants to do something like volunteer at the shelter to show she's not a little kid. Her father will confess that he may have been too strict with her and that it's wanting to keep her safe after her mother passing, but agrees to helping her start volunteering at the shelter and if she can handle the responsibility and her homework, they can look to adjust the rules. The protagonist will then decline going to the shelter after dinner to work on her essay, wanting to prove she is maturing.
- The protagonist and Felicity agree to watch over Merriman's Store while Mr. Merriman and Ben run an errand; while they're away, four men from the Committee of Safety arrive and the protagonist stands up to them when they damage store merchandise.
- The protagonist, Felicity and Ben travel to the Pamunkey River, where they meet two Native traders and purchase pottery to sell at Merriman's Store.
- The protagonist and Felicity visit Mistress Reed's printing press to have a notice from Mr. Merriman get published. The protagonist takes an interest in the printing process and asks Mistress Reed what it's like to be a businesswoman.
- The protagonist visits the Merrimans' house and meets Nan and Mrs. Merriman; after meeting Marcus, the protagonist becomes uncomfortable about the Merrimans owning a slave and can either return to her time or continue to stay in 1775.
- The protagonist and Felicity wait at the Governor's Palace for the militia to arrive and, after they do, can either remain at the Palace and hear Governor Dunmore speak or agree to help retrieve barrels of gunpowder from the Magazine.
- The protagonist and Felicity pay a visit to the Coles, where the protagonist meets Elizabeth and, after receiving an invitation to visit Lady Dunmore at the Governor's Palace, can either accept or decline and go back home.
- The protagonist and Felicity help a young Loyalist tied to the Liberty Post and confront the crowd of Patriots that were harassing him.
- Online endings include visiting King's Creek Plantation and either escorting slaves back to the slave quarters or Felicity teaching the protagonist how to horseback ride.
Regardless of the ending that is arrived at, the protagonist eventually returns to her own time using the miniature at the exact moment she left. She makes sure to make proper goodbyes to Felicity and generally says she has to go back to her father (whom Felicity believes she is separated from). The protagonist returns with a new-found understanding of her life and the past relating to the present.
This often includes a better understanding of the motive for her father's strict rules; the importance of talking things out to avoid conflicts and conflict negotiation and resolution; people having to make complicated choices regarding the safety of their families; knowing she can make a difference in her country as a citizen (relating to her essay); how history can be interpreted in the present, learning the varying viewpoints of different people during the American Revolution; seeing that all Loyalists weren't bad people and that some Patriots could do bad things in the name of freedom; learning that colonial women had more privileges than initially assumed, but less than in the modern era; and personal reflection on historical Black enslavement in America.
This book states that Felicity's coral necklace once belonged to her friend Charity, who died; the necklace was gifted to Felicity by Charity's mother.
- Felicity doesn't look at all surprised. "Many have arrived since the governor schemed to steal the colonists' gunpowder from the Magazine in the dark of night." The Gunpowder Incident occurred on April 20, 1775 and was referenced in Happy Birthday, Felicity!.
- Felicity is not yet reunited with Penny.