The Heroine: Laure Beausejour, a poor young woman living in a Paris dormitory reserved for the women that French society has no place for. A skilled lace worker, Laure dreams of one day owning her own dress shop and marrying into high society. However, when Laure is caught breaking dormitory rules, she is sent to Canada as a filles de roi: a woman of France designated as a wife for the fur-traders in Canada. Adventurous, resilient and often ill-tempered, Laure's selfish temperment benefits her survival in the harsh Canadian wilderness.
The Highs: Laure is a very interesting character to read about because she is not the typical insprational woman. She is snobbish towards her roommates, scornful and bitter towards those who have more money than herself and takes advantage of her only friend Madeleine. However, she is such a realistic character that its easy to become to attached to her and hope for her survival. The author should be congratulated on creating such a life-like character, especially on her first endeavour as a novelist.
It is obvious that a lot of historical research went into the writing of this novel. The book is stuffed full of historical facts and details that make the world of seventeenth century France come alive, though in a very different way than most descriptions of Paris. Laure lives in the underbelly of Paris, a place that typically remains untouched by authors. If anything, this book is very unique in every way.
I also enjoyed the star-crossed love between Laure and her Iroqouis friend, Deskaheh. It was an unusual pairing, but it made sense for Laure, as an unusual girl, to be attracted to such an odd match for the time.
On a more personal note, I enjoyed this book just based on the fact that it taught me a lot about my heritage that I wasn't aware of. My ancestors arrived on one of the first ships from France to Canada and its likely that there is a filles de roi somewhere on my family tree. I would recommend this book to anyone with a French-Canadian background!
The Lows: There were quite a few plot points that probably held symbolical value that went right over my head, particularily a scene where Laure's stomach is cut. I didn't always find Laure's emotional state very clear and therefore her actions were sometimes a mystery to me. I wish this book had better clarity on why certain things happened the way they did.
While I liked the love story between Laure and Deskaheh, as I mentioned before, I wish the author had taken it further to the next level. It would have made the story much more interesting and passionate, turning this novel into the type of book that's hard to put down. As it is, I'm left wanting more from the interaction between Laure and Deskaheh.
I also felt that the story ended rather adruptly. I would have liked to know what happened to Laure and how her life ended up.
Final Thoughts: This book is based on a really original idea and is a great read for anyone whose a history buff like me!
Rating: This book earns six animal pelts out of ten.
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