Thursday, July 25, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 294
Received: Borrowed from a friend

Release Date: January 18, 2011
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1669, Laure Beausejour, an orphan imprisoned with prostitutes, the insane and other forgotten women in Paris’ infamous Salpetriere, is sent across the Atlantic to New France as a Fille du roi. Laure once dreamed with her best friend Madeleine of using her needlework stills to become a seamstress on the Rue Saint-Honoré and to one day marry a gentleman. The King, however, needs French women in his new colony and he finds a fresh supply in the city’s largest orphanage. Laure and Madeleine know little of the place called New France, except for stories of ferocious winters and men who eat the hearts of French priests. To be banished to Canada is a punishment worse than death.

Bride of New France explores the challenges of coming into womanhood in a brutal time and place. From the moment she arrives in Ville-Marie (Montreal), Laure is expected to marry and produce children with a French soldier who can himself barely survive the harsh conditions of his forest cabin. But Laure finds, through her clandestine relationship with Deskaheh, an allied Iroquois, a sense of the possibilities in this New World.

What happens to a woman who attempts to make her own life choices in such authoritative times?

Bride of New France is a beautiful debut novel that explores a fascinating chapter in Canadian history.

My Review:

I wasn't really sure what to think about this book when I closed it, and I had to take some time to think about everything that happens. This book takes on a very interesting part of Canadian history.

This book was actually a pretty quick read, as readers follow Laure's journey. The book is cut off into sections as follows Laure's life first in Paris, then on the boat over to New France, and from there her life in Canada as she grows and slowly adapts to this new place. Laure deals with many hardships over the course of this book, the hardest is dealing with the difficult weather that is found in Canada.

Laure is sent off to this new land and is expected to marry and have children as soon as possible to help populate. Laure is very hard-headed and does what she likes, despite the consequences it may cause. I found that it took me some time to really understand everything Laure was going through, in the beginning while living at the Salpetriere, readers see Laure as being jealous of this new girl that has come in and wishes for her to leave for New France like she is supposed to, but when the girl does leave it is not how Laure expects, and Laure ends up learning a lot more about this girl. From there, Laure gets put on a boat with her best friend Madeline, she is expected to help populate this new land for the King.

We get a section about Laure's travels to the New France, this one I had some difficulties getting through. I'm not sure why, but for me I just wanted to know what would happen when she finally got to Canada, and how she dealt with the differences. I didn't care so much about the girls she traveled with to get there (though I can see that it shows Laure's differences from the other girls actually sent to Canada). Laure definitely learns a lot on the trip of what she may expect from this new place, but when she gets there it is still a shock.

This book is really about watching as Laure grows up and learn the rules of a new place. Laure must quickly learn to take care of herself and her new husband. Laure is looked down upon by everyone because she is so different and she doesn't hide it, I really loved her character and how she wouldn't let other people put her down. She is someone that when she puts her mind to something, it gets done.

This is not a story that everything is all happy, this is a very dark book where many disasters happen in a short amount of time. This is not a sweet and good time book, it's about the difficulties people had when first coming to Canada (or "New France") and how the Iroquois were treated.

The one complaint I had with the story was that everything moved so fast. This is one of those books that I think needs a little more fleshing out in places, and could be even better if it was a little longer. Other than that, I did enjoy this story, and I think Laure makes huge leaps through everything.

1 comment:

  1. I picked this one up at a library book sale and unfortunately it is still sitting on my bookshelf! This one sounds as if it is a bit more character focused than some historical fiction. Glad to hear that for the most part you enjoyed the story though!



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