View from the window seat:
Laure Beausejour, imprisoned in the Salpetriere in Paris, is sent to the French colony in Canada in 1669 as a fille du roi after she foolishly sends a letter to the king complaining about the living conditions in the Salpetriere. Though she once dreamed of becoming a famous seamstress who marries a rich man in Paris, she now has to contend with the wilderness of Canada and a settlement where the men beg to return to France. Soon trapped in a loveless marriage, she begins a forbidden relationship with a Native American man.
I will start off with what I did like: the historical aspects of the novel. The author brings the tragic Salpetriere and the harsh winters of Canada to life through her narrative. I knew nothing of the filles du roi before reading this book, and it was very interesting to see the struggles they faced in leaving their home country for an unknown wilderness.
I didn’t like Laure. At all. She’s selfish to the point of cruelty for the entire novel. She is also extremely arrogant and condescending towards first the girls in the Salpetriere and then towards the girls sent to Canada with her. The other characters are also one-dimensional, from her husband to her best friend Madeleine to the Iroquois Deskaheh.
The novel has very little plot to speak of. It focuses on her journey and what happens to Laure, but the exposition tells rather than shows, so I found it hard to form any emotional attachment to Laure and her plight.
I was unable to form any connections to the flat and unlikeable characters in Bride of New France. The history of the filles du roi in the novel is very interesting, though.
Note: I received this ARC from the publisher at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference.