Review: Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers

Description (from cover):

“A riveting story of resilience and redemption that transports us from the streets of seventeenth-century Paris to the frontiers of the New World.

Laure Beausejour is taken from her parents as a young girl and sent to the Salpetriere, the infamous Parisian asylum for orphans, the insane, the poor, and prostitutes. The nuns control the girls, who work in grueling conditions making lace. Spirited and intelligent, Laure dreams of leaving the orphanage to set up shop as a seamstress.

But after a bold misdeed, she is punished. Along with her pious, gentle-hearted best friend, Laure is shipped across the Atlantic to New France, where they are expected to marry and provide children for the colony. After a harrowing ocean voyage, Laure finds Montreal primitive and inhospitable. Thinking it best to marry a farmer, she journeys to an even smaller and more isolated community where there is little food and poor shelter.

Laure’s husband leaves in winter to trap furs, forcing her to face the brutal winter on her own. To survive, she must rely on her wits–and her clandestine relationship with a young Iroquois man.

Inspired by a foremother who traveled to New France, Suzanne Desrochers creates a vivid, historically rich work that opens up the stories of our maternal ancestors in this stunning debut novel.”

My Thoughts:

          I found this book to be very interesting and very informative about a culture and historical event that I know very little about. The very act of sending women to the “New France” colony by the French king to serve as only wives of the soldiers and producers of children, seems to me to be appalling. But if you look at how women were perceived and treated in the seventeenth century, I shouldn’t be surprised.

          This story follows young Laure who has known poverty all her life. She hasn’t had much in her very short life and knows only the squalor and terror of the Salpetriere where mad women and prostitutes are housed. She finds herself dreaming of a future where she can be finally free of the bounds of poverty and where she can make a world for herself. However, before she can achieve her dreams, she finds herself in trouble and being sent to New France as a punishment. She knows that where she goes people say that they would rather be in Hell than in this new and untamed wilderness. She will serve the purpose of being a wife to a soldier that has decided to stay and live in Canada and will be there solely for the purpose of creating children for the colony. She isn’t too thrilled about this idea and disembarks for Canada with dread for the future of what this new colony will bring and the past she will leave behind.

       I enjoyed reading this novel and learning about French colonization in early Canada. The conditions were appalling and the climate in winter even more so. These people were not prepared for the harshness of the winter having never endured winter like this before. I enjoyed the main character, Laure, and her voice as she travels from Paris to Canada with the hope of a new life but with the realizations that nothing will be like she dreamed it would be. Desrochers creates a wonderful character who is stubborn and eager to be independent in this new world. The only issue I had with this book was that the ending was a little rushed and felt like it wasn’t well thought out. I felt the ending left the reader feeling that everything hadn’t been cleared up and left the reader hanging. Overall a good read, but I wish the story could have been a little more well-developed at the end and created a sense of completeness.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Title: Bride of New France
Author: Suzanne Desrochers
Series: N/A
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: August 6, 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Historical Fiction

 Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind.  All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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