I received an advanced copy of this book by Suzanne Desrochers in return for my review. It will be released this month, so here is the scoop about it.
Transporting us from the streets of 17th-century Paris to the rugged frontiers of the new world, BRIDE OF NEW FRANCE tells the story of a remarkable woman. As a girl, Laure Beauséjour has the great misfortune of being taken from her parents and sent to the Salpêtrière, an infamous Parisian asylum for orphans, madwomen, and prostitutes. Despite many setbacks, Laure grows up into a strong, self-assured, and intelligent young woman.
But when she dares to criticize the shortage of food in a letter to the King, Laure receives a terrible punishment. She is sent to the wilds of New France—present-day Québec—where she is to marry a settler and bear children for the King’s new venture. After a harrowing sea journey, Laure finds the colony even more primitive and inhospitable than she imagined. Faced with a brutal winter and a husband she can neither love nor respect, Laure draws on her strength—and her clandestine relationship with an Iroquois man—in order to make her way in this harsh world.
The strengths of this story lie in its history and settings. I found those parts fascinating. Desrochers did her homework and for that alone, I felt the book worth reading. I’ve never read about French Canada at this period of time, and how women in this new nation worked into the scheme of things. What a brutal, hard life! The plot was good. Laure is a vibrant, impulsive, selfish 17-year-old girl. Her rash actions in what she deems a miserable, hopeless existence lead to grave consequences that pull at the reader’s heartstrings. Her decisions and choices lead to a gripping novel near the end.
The biggest weakness for me was the point of view and character development. The characters didn’t truly connect with me. They felt more like characters in a history book. The point of view (3rd person present tense) probably contributed to this disconnect. There aren’t too many characters to confuse the reader’s mind, but there are a lot of French names, which I can’t pronounce. Most of the names are different enough from each other that the reader doesn’t mix them up though.
If you like historical fiction and learning about new places and times, this book is definitely worth the read. Bride of New France gives readers a glimpse into the life of the poor in Paris during the 1600’s, the brutal conditions on a ship, and harsh living conditions in the region of early Quebec. It dragged in a few spots because of the writing style, but was still an interesting and fairly fast read once I got past the middle.
All I can say is…I’m glad I live now. A woman’s life back then sounded awful…miserable…hard…icky. Bride of New France? No,thank you. It might be easier to be the Bride of Frankenstein.