Good morning. Considering what it’s like around here, I thought a little music was needed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzFnYcIqj6I
As Annie Lennox says, says, here comes the rain again.
Rainy days are perfect days for reading, In this week’s Saturday Spotlight, I want to feature two books, my historical romances: The Captain’s Promise and The Price of Honor. Both are set in the seventeenth century amidst the intrigue of politics in France and the birth pangs of the French Colonies in North America, specifically New France, now Canada.
While there are many historical novels set in the United States, England, Scotland, France and other countries, there aren’t many set in New France or Martinique during the colonial era. I’m not really sure why. Maybe people don’t realize that Canada’s start wasn’t quite without drama, but it was definitely different than the drama in the Thirteen Colonies around the same time. Both the French government and the English government saw the colonies as money makers. They hunted the land for furs, set up colonies, ignoring the indigenous peoples, and when the colonists did arrive to carve out a living for themselves in a rugged inhospitable land, as different as possible from the homeland, the government taxed them or used them as pawns in a power struggle for more riches.
Both my mother’s family and my father’s came to Canada from France during those turbulent years. On my dad’s side, we can trace our family back to Paris in the mid-seventeenth century when my ancestor came to Canada in 1665 as part of the Carrigan-Salieres Regiment sent to New France to protect the colonists from the dangers presented by the Iroquois Confederacy and the threat they posed to the lucrative fur trade.
Three years later, in 1668, the Iroquois threat dealt with, the bulk of the regiment returned to France where it was disbanded, about 450 men remained as settlers. These men were encouraged to marry, offered land as an incentive, but since French were rare in the colony, the government of France sought to remedy that by sending widows and unmarried women to New France as Filles du Roi, during the 1660s and early 1670s, largely in response to the need to provide wives for the regiment. The Carignan-Salières officers were granted seigneurial tenures, basically establishing a kind of new aristocracy in the colony. The lands they were given were key to protecting the colony not only from the Iroquois, but from the British to the south. The Seigneurs would sub grant land to the men of their companies in order to create an even more thoroughly reinforced zone. The French had a practice of allotting noms de guerre – nicknames – to their soldiers. Many of these nicknames remain today as they gradually became the official surnames of the many soldiers who elected to remain in Canada when their service expired as well as the names of cities and towns throughout New France. My mother’s maiden name was Marion, and there is a small town not to far from here named Marionville. My father’s name is Poirier.
When I decided to write these books, I wanted to offer readers a glimpse not only of the colony, but of the back door deals and intrigue that went on in France, almost dooming my nation to failure.
I did take a little poetic license with my ancestors, though and while Poirier was definitely a soldier, i doubt he was an officer granted a seigneurie, and I’m pretty sure there’s no royal blood running through my veins.
The Price of Honor:
What price is a woman willing to pay to restore a man’s honor?
When her husband is falsely accused of treason and murdered, Isabelle de Caen vows to find those responsible and see justice done. Of royal descent, Isabelle is stunned when the king orders her hasty marriage to one of his favorites, a man she detests. To save herself from a fate too awful to contemplate, she disobeys the king’s edict and commits treason of her own to find the truth.
Childhood friend, Guy Poirier, an aristocrat in New France, has always loved Isabelle. When he discovers her hiding in his cabin aboard ship, he agrees to hide her from her fiancé and help her clear her husband’s name. It doesn’t take them long to realize there’s more at stake here than her husband’s murder. With the fate of the colony in their hands, can Isabelle and Guy prevent a war and find love in the new world?
The Captain’s Promise:
Etienne Blouin left Danielle de Cherbourg in tears, promising to return; he didn’t. Ten years later, Etienne learns she’s been widowed and left almost penniless. Now a wealthy ship’s captain, he offers to help her, but the only reply he gets is from her aunt telling him to leave Danielle alone. Convinced she’s in trouble, he determines to rescue her whether she likes it or not, even if it means losing her love. Danielle is shocked to learn that her companion is going to the colonies, while she is to marry a cruel and powerful man as repayment of her husband’s gambling debts. Despondent, she sees no way out of the horrendous situation. When her carriage is waylaid and she’s kidnapped, she fears the worse. Etienne has enemies who don’t want La Belle Rose to make port. Can he outfox them to save his ship and the woman he loves?
Learning about one’s roots can make for fascinating reading and writing. Do you have interesting tales hidden in your family history?