Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The King's Daughter (review)

Title: The King’s Daughter
Author: Suzanne Martel
Publication Information: Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, rev. 1994, paperback
Genre: Juvenile Historical

Plot: Orphaned at 10, Jeanne Chatel was taken in by convent where the nuns tried unsuccessfully to turn her into a young lady. At 18, longing for adventure and aware that lack of dowry leaves her few alternatives, she jumps at the opportunity offered to orphans as an honorary “King’s Daughter” – the chance to leave France to sail to a new life with the French colonists in the New World, which means ultimately marrying a complete stranger. Although Jeanne has always envisioned herself with a dashing hero, to save her shy friend from a harsh stranger, she undertakes to marry a French trapper who lives in the wilderness, vulnerable to the bloodthirsty Iroquois. The dangers experienced in 17th century New France are vividly (and terrifyingly) depicted but Jeanne’s fearless spirit helps her overcome all obstacles to create a new life for herself.
What I liked: Someone called Jeanne the French-Canadian Anne of Green Gables, and I love that comparison. Jeanne has Anne Shirley’s imagination and longing for affection and a family. She embraces every challenge and shows great ingenuity when faced with danger. In addition, she has a love of the wilderness and the physical courage to live in a place where death is a constant threat.

What I disliked: There was nothing to criticize in this vivid and beautifully written book. Apparently some readers were concerned with the depiction of Native Americans as murderous and fearsome, and ignoring their rightful claim to the land. In the revised edition, the author points out that her depiction is from the point of view of the settler.

Source: I don’t remember who recommended this book to me but it was well worth hunting down via Interlibrary Loan. It was one of my favorite reads of 2012.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are a couple of historical inaccuracies in the book. The King's Daughters were recruited, not selected, for the overseas adventure. And the marriages were not arranged or selected; the girls were free to choose their husbands. In fact, some took as long as 3 years to marry. And of the 800-odd King's Daughters, almost 200 of them never married at all.