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Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers

Bride of New France (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Suzanne Desrochers

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2152254,204 (3.34)83
Title:Bride of New France
Authors:Suzanne Desrochers
Info:Penguin Books (2011), Paperback
Collections:Read in 2012

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Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers (2011)


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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
This is not a compelling book; it lacks more historical information and the characters are weekly portrayed. I could not empathize with the main character; Laure is shallow and flat. I forced myself to get to at least half way through the book—hey, I was desperate: there was nothing else to read!—but could not finish reading it. What finally wore me down was the narration in the present tense; it made it boring, monotonous. As her first book, this does not say much good for Mrs. Desrochers’ career. I am certainly not looking forward to read her next novels! For the ones who like good historical novels, I suggest the series “Angélique,” by Anne Golon the last seven volumes describe life in Canada. (The last one "La Victoire d'Angélique" is, so far as I know, only available in French.) ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
3.5 stars

It’s the mid-1600s. Laure grew up in a hospital in Paris that housed orphans. When some of the girls are chosen to be sent to New France (Canada) to become wives for the many men who are already there, Laure is one who is chosen to go. The girls have heard horror stories about New France, including about the “savages” and don’t know what to expect.

I enjoyed this. I listened to the audio, and the narrator spoke very slowly, but I only noticed that once in a while. I suppose it did also help with the few French words that were thrown in. The plot itself doesn’t move quickly and it took me a little bit of time at the start to get interested, but once I was interested, I did enjoy it. It was interesting to learn about the colonization of French Canada hundreds of years ago, and for me, it’s always more interesting through the eyes of a woman. ( )
  LibraryCin | Nov 1, 2016 |
Bride of New France, the debut novel from Canadian author Suzanne Desrochers, is set in Paris and New France in the latter part of the 17th century. As the novel opens the reader is introduced to Laure Beausejour, a young woman living at Paris' notorious Hospice de la Saltpetriere. Skilled at embroidery, Laure dreams of becoming a renowned seamstress and marrying well. This dream, however, is shattered when Laure is sent to New France as one of King Louis XIV's filles du roi (King's girl), a group of young women sent to the French colony to marry and raise a family.

The greatest strength of this novel lies with Desrochers' rich imagery, which leaves the reader with an astounding sense of time and place. These vivid descriptions are especially pronounced when the setting of the novel shifts to New France. Indeed, the reader can almost feel the cold air and hear the wind whistling through Laure's cabin during her first winter in the colony. In her new surroundings, her sense her isolation and loneliness is palpable. Through Laure, the reader gets to experience the hardships faced by the filles du roi and the colonist in general as they tried to tame the harsh and unforgiving environment in which they settled.

Although fluidly written, the manner in which this story is told makes it difficult to connect with Laure. A connection with the protagonist is also made difficult due to her lack of charisma. I was interested in Laure's struggles, but indifferent to the outcomes. Nevertheless, these facts did not impact in any overly negative way on my enjoyment of the novel.

Bride of New France is a worthwhile read for any fan of historical fiction, especially those interested in novels told from the perspective of ordinary individuals rather than famous historical figures. Suzanne Desrochers is a writer to watch and I look forward to hearing more from her. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
I wanted to like it. The book has elements of true stories, but some elements are too far-fetched to seem real. It tells the story of the Filles du Roi (“brides” – orphans, poor, and mad girls and women) sent from France to wed fur traders and soldiers in Canada to further settlement there, but the protagonist is entirely unlikeable, and many of her actions seem entirely unlikely. As for the historical facts, yes, I was glad to read more about that period in the history of France and Canada. As for the way Laure was portrayed, not a fan. ( )
  countrylife | Jul 21, 2015 |
I am extremely conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I loved the premise and found the book difficult to put down. I’ve always been intrigued by the Filles du Roi, girls send over to Canada by the French king to provide husbands for the fur-traders and soldiers there, in an attempt to develop permanent settlements rather than just trading outposts.

On the other hand, the protagonist is pretty unlikeable and hard to relate to. I had expected initially that there would be more character development, that she would eventually take to her new life and be happy in Canada, that she would work to build a better life for herself. None of that really happens. Laure seems determined to be miserable. She can’t imagine a good future for herself, so she just sort of limps through life passively. The author says in a note that this is deliberate: “How there could have been any excitement or hope in such a dangerous and terrible venture is really beyond my imagining…. I wanted to create a counterpoint to this grand narrative of the filles du roi as founding mothers.”

I can appreciate what she was trying to do, and in many ways it succeeded. But I also seem to believe more than she does in the human capacity to hope. I can easily imagine that someone previously confined to a poorhouse in France would be optimistic about the freedom of building her own life in a new country, even if that new life might involve hard work and lack of comfort and a husband who wasn’t her intellectual equal.

More importantly, though, reading about someone who’s consistently unhappy and hopeless just wasn’t particularly enjoyable or satisfying for me. I wanted to cheer with Laure as she embraced and succeeded in a new life. I *wanted* the grand narrative of heroism with its happy ending. Desrocher is a historian, and I appreciate her efforts to craft an informative, historically-accurate novel that makes the reader question prior assumptions about a traditional narrative. As a story read for enjoyment, though, I found that something was lacking here. ( )
  _Zoe_ | Sep 17, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
In the 17th century, hundreds of girls and women were sent from France – often against their will – to populate the New World. But little is known of these filles du roi, as they were dubbed, and they left almost nothing behind in the way of stories or documents of their experience. In her debut novel, Ontario-born Suzanne Desrochers weaves together history and fiction to dramatize the life of one imagined fille du roi, Laure Beausejour....Desrochers’ descriptions are vivid and unforgiving; any romantic notions the reader may harbour about pre-revolutionary Paris disappear...Desrocher’s portrayal of her characters is sympathetic, despite their obvious flaws...Laure’s story weighs heavily on the reader, but in her, Desrochers has given history’s silent filles du roi a voice


The 17th century in France and New France presented huge challenges for women, especially women with no money or status. In Bride of New France, Suzanne Desrochers delineates those challenges for Laure, the main character in this historical novel....
Desrochers brings to life the dismal conditions under which the girls laboured..
Desrochers seems to heap on the difficulties for Laure, and the New France part is less engaging than the Old France part.

But both give an excellent look at the struggles for existence and the struggle for meaning in what can be a terrifying life.

. Never has such familiar lint been picked to greater effect than in Bride of New France, by Susan Desrochers, a trained historian who has boldly appropriated fiction to expand a vision of life gleaned from painstaking study of often overlooked evidence....As a graduate student at Toronto’s York University, Desrochers chose to study the well-known but little-investigated story of the filles du roi, women of uncertain origin exported by royal decree into the faltering, almost wholly male colony in the late 17th century to serve as breeding stock for a new European population. Over the course of some virtuous process, her thesis blossomed into a fully imagined but deeply grounded novel about Laure Beausejour, the fictionalized daughter of Parisian street people who is swept up by police and incarcerated for years in the nightmarish Salpêtrière Hospital, a prison housing thousands of indigent, ill and insane women, before resigning herself to an even more appalling fate: exile in Canada....As much as her feeling for Laure and her companions gives the book heart, professional discipline keeps it real. It is a powerful combination.

Bride of New France will not silence critics of the new social history, nor is it meant to. But if they do want to bring the past alive for a new generation, as they typically claim, they could never find a text more likely to engage the minds and imaginations of young people, especially girls, who have grown immune to the conventional narratives

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from amazon ca:Product Description
Laure Beausejour has grown up in a dormitory in Paris surrounded by prostitutes, the insane, and other forgotten women. She dreams with her best friend, Madeleine, of using her needlework skills to become a seamstress and one day marry a nobleman. But in 1669, Laure is sent across the Atlantic to New France with Madeleine as filles du roi. The girls know little of the place they are being sent to, except for stories of ferocious winters and Indians who eat the hearts of French priests. To be banished to Canada is a punishment worse than death.
Bride of New France explores the challenges Laure faces coming into womanhood in a brutal time and place. From the moment she arrives in Ville-Marie (Montreal) she is expected to marry and produce children with a brutish French soldier who himself can barely survive the harsh conditions of his forest cabin. But through her clandestine relationship with Deskaheh, an allied Iroquois, Laure finds a sense of the possibilities in this New World.

What happens to a woman who attempts to make her own life choices in such authoritative times?

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Follows the life of Laure Beasejour, a young, French orphan who is transported to the new, but primitive, Canadian colony as part of a program sponsored by King Louis XIV that sent eight hundred young women abroad to marry settlers.

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