Released: January 18, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Laure Beausejour has grown up in a dormitory in Paris surrounded by prostitutes, the insane, and other forgotten women. She dreams with her best friend, Madeleine, of using her needlework skills to become a seamstress and one day marry a nobleman. But in 1669, Laure is sent across the Atlantic to New France with Madeleine as filles du roi. The girls know little of the place they are being sent to, except for stories of ferocious winters and Indians 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 Laure faces coming into womanhood in a brutal time and place. From the moment she arrives in Ville-Marie (Montreal) she is expected to marry and produce children with a brutish French soldier who himself can barely survive the harsh conditions of his forest cabin. But through her clandestine relationship with Deskaheh, an allied Iroquois, Laure finds 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?
My Rating: 4 / 5
It has been a few years since I last read about Canadian history (make that Grade 9 history!). The last line of the blurb above is what caught my eye..it's amazing how the world has changed for women over the years. Suzanne's debut is stunning from page one, with an ending that blew me away.
A captivating read, The Bride of New France is the tale of one remarkably strong woman. The main character, Laure, has never had an easy life. She has lived on the streets with her parents, is torn from them and placed in an orphanage, is taken in by a rich lady only to return when she passes away...and this is just the beginning, see what I mean? She finds comfort in her one best friend, Madeleine, the polar opposite of herself as Laure is not exactly the most sympathetic person - yes, she has been jaded & that unfortunately, she carries with her. At times this causes Laure to make decisions that are selfish yet you can't help but feel hope that things will finally turn around for her. What I loved most was that as destitiate as Laure's life was, she still had hopes & dreams. Somehow, in all this, it was not a sad story. It wasn't until a huge event happened near the end that I realized just how powerful & wonderful a character Suzanne created in Laure...when you react so strongly to something that is so out of character for you, that is a true sign of a great writer!