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Savage Lands: Book summary and reviews of Savage Lands by Clare Clark

Savage Lands

by Clare Clark

Savage Lands
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2010
    416 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

It is 1704 and, while the Sun King Louis XIV rules France from the splendor of Versailles, Louisiana, the new and vast colony named in his honor, is home to fewer than two hundred souls. When a demand is sent requesting wives be dispatched for the struggling settlers, Elisabeth is among the twenty-three girls who set sail from France to be married to men of whom they know absolutely nothing. Educated and skeptical, Elisabeth has little hope for happiness in her new life. It is to her astonishment that she, alone among the brides, finds herself passionately in love with her new husband, Jean-Claude, a charismatic and ruthlessly ambitious soldier.

Auguste, a poor cabin boy from Rochefort, must also adjust to a startlingly unexpected future. Abandoned in a remote native village, he is charged by the colony's governor with mastering the tribe's strange language while reporting back on their activities. It is there that he is befriended by Elisabeth's husband as he begins the slow process of assimilation back into life among the French.

The love Elisabeth and Auguste share for Jean-Claude changes both of their lives irrevocably. When in time he betrays them both, they find themselves bound together in ways they never anticipated.

With the same compelling prose and vividly realized characters that won her widespread acclaim for The Great Stink and The Nature of Monsters, Clare Clark takes us deep into the heart of colonial French Louisiana.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Clark’s vast store of historical and geographical detail enriches the portraits of her three vibrant characters, whose destinies are inextricably, and memorably, bound." - Booklist

"She is an assiduous researcher, but too eager to show it. Still, Clark's passion for her story overcomes and will please lovers of historical fiction." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers of Clark's earlier novels will enjoy this; it should also appeal to those interested in women's, French, New Orleans, or colonial-period history and in Native Americans." - Library Journal

"Although finely textured, this oblique, murkily downbeat tale often loses its thrust in the details." - Kirkus Reviews

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Reader Reviews

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Kim Draughn

About My Family
I had never read anything by Clare Clark, I picked this book up at the library last week. I started to read and found out that it was about the Casket Girls that came over on the Pelican. I read with great interest because I am a decedent as many say that are from this area. It was a very good story I could visualize the area at that time. My family settled in South Mississippi early in the 1700's and many decedents remain there still.

Not until the end of the book and in the authors notes did I see what I was looking for.. She said that she used two of the women from the Pelican as her character Elizabeth. One of them the spelling is actually Gebrielle Savary not Gabrielle Savaret, this woman was my ancestor, she married Jean Baptist Saucier from Quebec in Mobile in 1704, she was the great grandmother to Mary Louise Saucier who married Ramon Lizana who was the first Lizana in the Gulf Coast Area, I am seventh generation from him.

My dad's family the Lizana's were some of the first residents of the Delisle Mississippi area. I love to learn about our history. I have a cousin who did a wonderful family tree for us and it details back to the marriage of Ramon Lizana and Marie Louise Saucier I happened upon he details of Gebrielle myself.

This book is very well written. The details of the Native Americans are wonderful.

Eileen F. (Ephrata, WA)

Savage Lands
Savage Lands is a historical page turning novel of France's attempt to settle and claim the Louisiana territory. Her main characters, Elizabeth a casket girl, and Auguste a poor cabin boy, developed into very strong characters. It is a story of hope, survival, betrayal, fear, and strength. The history of the slaves, the local Indian tribes, the attempt to cultivate the land,and the other immigrants, all held my attention.

Clark's prose is at times almost poetic. She keeps the drama of her story flowing by intricately weaving parts of the present into future chapters. Her author's notes at the end of the book were very informative. They detailed the actual history of the time. Clark now has me hooked, I will have to read her other novels.

Sande O. (Rochester, NY)

Riveting and Thought-provoking Read
Clare Clark takes the reader into a very primitive land in her historical novel, Savage Lands. This is not the Louisiana of the antebellum South, this is the pioneer land of 18th century French, English and Native American combatants. The initial background is the French effort to "civilize" settlement of the frontier by sending "casket wives" to the territory and it ends with the Louisiana Bubble, an economic disaster.

Throughout the well-researched narrative we follow the lives of women caught in the drama of settlement, love, betrayal and survival. It is reminiscent in many ways of novels coming out of third world countries today: women's lives playing against a much larger backdrop they cannot control.

Altogether a riveting and thought-provoking read.

Constance S. (Sacramento, CA)

Exquisite prose
Clare Clark's prose is exquisite in this very intricately woven tale of life in the early 1700's Louisiana Territory when France began its settlement among the Chikasaw and Choctaw Indians.The three main characters, Elisabeth,Jean Claude and Auguste are very human with their virtues and frailties.The love scenes are sensuous but muted. The descriptions of primitive living by the settlers puts us there with them thanks to the research and skillful writing of the author, who, by the way lightens the pages with sprinkles of humor.

This historical fiction brings to mind Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier. Savage Lands is a totally satisfying read for lovers of good literature.

Josephine J. (Goshen, CT)

Excellent historical novel
Savage Lands is a beautifully written (almost poetic) story of the early days of Louisiana. Set in the early 1700s, we learn about the French settlers, their relation to the land and to the "savages" that they encounter, befriend, fight, and enslave. The two main characters, Elisabeth and Auguste are finely drawn, fully realized characters, based on real people. Anyone who likes historical fiction will be sure to be intrigued by this compelling story.

Linda Z. (Corydon, IN)

Savage Lands by Clare Clark
As a history major, I really enjoy historical novels and this one was a winner. I learned what a "casket girl" was and a lot about the French settling of Mobile and New Orleans. I have found myself wanting to learn more about this period using the Internet and my local library. Names like Iberville, Bienville and John Law and even Massacre Island have whetted my appetite for more information. Maybe that is one reason why I enjoy historical novels along with a good story which this delivered.

...12 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Clare Clark Author Biography

Chris Clark

Clare read History at Trinity College, Cambridge, where she was a Senior Scholar. She graduated with a Double First.

She then spent eleven years in advertising, first at Saatchi & Saatchi and then, as a board director, at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, working both in London and New York.

Her first novel, The Great Stink, was published by Viking in 2005 after a five-way auction: critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic, The Great Stink was long-listed for the Orange Prize, won the Pendleton May First Novel award in the UK and the Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices award in the USA. It was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year.

Since then The Great Stink has been translated into five languages. A film of the novel is currently in development.

She has ...

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