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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"Clarks 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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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.
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