“Liked the time period, but not the story-telling. The author kept glossing over the parts that I really wanted to know about, only to stress how much she missed her friend. Enough already.”Megan S wrote this review Wednesday, September 25, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I am so conflicted about this book!
The setting (17th century Paris and 'New France'/Canada) and premise (government-made orphan shipped with dozens of other girls to frontier Canada for forced marriages to French settlers) are fascinating, but I just couldn't stand the novel's narrative style (third person, present tense).
Our heroine, Laure, comes from a poverty-stricken family, and in 17th century Paris, by the King's decree, the poor were not allowed to be seen on the streets. When her family is seen, Laure is seized and sent to the Salpêtrière, a compound of imprisoned prostitutes, orphans, and other undesirables, where she's trained in lace-making. Her aspiration is to become a celebrated Parisian seamstress, a vocation she thinks will allow her to meet, and marry, a Duke.
Instead, she becomes a fille du roi, part of a convey of unwanted women -- some sick, some mad, some simply too poor to protest -- shipped to the French colony in the 'New World' in order to marry the wild single men there. Unsurprisingly, Laure's life is predictably grim and horrifying.
I'll admit to being shocked at how long it took Laure to get to Canada; from the jacket copy, I presumed it would be immediately, but it wasn't until about page 95 (of a 288 page novel) that Laure departs France. The story leading up to it didn't feel particularly necessary: as I noted on GoodReads, I wasn't 'close' to Laure, despite the immediacy of the present tense narrative. She always felt a bit standoffish and odd. I'd rather the story lingered more with Laure in Canada as I found some of her decisions and the events that happened between her and an Iroquois man to be baffling and confusing.
In her Historical Notes, Desrochers indicated the inspiration for this novel came out her thesis on the women who emigrated to the Americas as well as her desire was to show the realities of the women who colonized Canada -- to counter the mythic, patriotic, and admiring stories she'd been told as a child. She's successful in that: with each step in Laure's journey, my heart sank further and further.
Ultimately, despite my frustration with the style of the story, I was unable to put it down. Those curious can check out the novel's opening at the US publisher's website (although I should note it is missing the novel's prologue, weirdly enough. But you'll get a sense of Desrochers' writing style.) A great historical novel for those who like their historicals to articulate the grim reality women faced in the past or Francophiles who want to read about a less novelized era of French history.”
“I would have given this book a 3.5 but what kept me from doing this was the author's use of french words. It wasn't sporadic enough to make a point and was so prevalent that it was annoying. I wished there was a glossary (pronun) in the book. Overall the story was great and I enjoyed the style of writing. ”Dawn L wrote this review Sunday, February 24, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“An interesting look at the lives of women during the days of exploration and fur trading in early Canada”Brenda H wrote this review Thursday, November 29, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Slow going and you are at page 200 before you get anything to enjoy. The writing isn't bad, but can be at arms length at times. Needs better storyline and better pacing. ”nina d wrote this review Friday, November 9, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Raised as an orphan in the Salpetriere in Paris, Laure Beausejour dreams of life as a seamstress making beautiful clothes for wealthy women. Teen in 1669 Laure and her friend Madeleine find themselves sent to Canada as filles du roi and her life changes forever. Well researched first novel about life in New France and the forgotten women who helped to people it. ”VVV wrote this review Tuesday, October 30, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Good historical fiction--didn't know about this aspect of Canadian settlement. Reader is very easy to listen to, and tells the story beautifully.”Gayle S wrote this review Friday, October 19, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Pretty good book. Story held my interest.”Lisa T wrote this review Saturday, September 22, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“fascinating picture of life in France and Canada for a talented but poor girl; I only wish I could have felt more sympathetic toward this selfish, heartless person”Jill B wrote this review Friday, August 31, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No