In her illuminating debut novel, Aimie K. Runyan masterfully blends fact and fiction to explore the founding of New France through the experiences of three young women who, in 1667, answer Louis XIV’s call and journey to the Canadian colony.
They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens. Each prospective bride has her reason for leaving—poverty, family rejection, a broken engagement. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness.
Once in Quebec, Elisabeth quickly accepts baker Gilbert Beaumont, who wants a business partner as well as a wife. Nicole, a farmer’s daughter from Rouen, marries a charming officer who promises comfort and security. Scarred by her traumatic past, Rose decides to take holy vows rather than marry. Yet no matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.
Title: Promised to the Crown, Daughters of New France No. 1
Author: Aimie K. Runyan
Genre: Historical Fiction | Series
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Published: April 26, 2016
Format: Kindle, 352 pages
FTC Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are mine.
Either I missed it in history class or little was included in our history curriculum about New France, or as we know it, Quebec, in the 17th century. And it seems less may be known about the colonization of this area.
Imagine this: You have been ostracized in France for some reason and sent to a nunnery, prison, or orphanage. Life isn’t easy. You have the opportunity to sail to New France and when you arrive, it will be your job to marry and have babies to populate the area. Appealing? Not on the surface, but if you want out of your current situation badly enough, this would be extraordinarily appealing.
We meet and follow Rose, a young woman living in deplorable conditions and with a history which has left her with a strong distaste for men and the idea of marriage. On the crossing, Rose meets Nicole and Elisabeth. The three bond quickly and support each other in carrying for the younger girls traveling with them.
Once again, they find themselves living with nuns of the Ursuline Order but this is entirely different from any previous experience. The Ursuline Order is there to assist in matchmaking with the men in the territory. Some matches are good and loving; others are not. But if you want to return to France, you take your chances. You may die on the return crossing, or you may end up in worse circumstances than when you left.
Despite the darkness of these conditions as you read my review, there is a great deal of hope among the women and the men. They see great promise in New France, and it is their dream they will be able to bring other family over at some time in the future.
Babies are born, and often are lost early in their lives. This doesn’t stop the population from increasing however. These are people, and especially the women, who don’t give up easily when they have a dream to fulfill.
If you are a fan of historical fiction set in this geographical area or this time period, Aimie Runyan has written the first in a trilogy which promises to bring more good reading to your shelves. Be sure to check out Promised to the Crown (Daughters of New France, Book No. 1). You won’t be sorry!
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Aimie K. Runyan, member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, has been an avid student of French and Francophone Studies for more than fifteen years. While working on her Master’s thesis on the brave women who helped found French Canada, she was fortunate enough to win a generous grant from the Quebec government to study onsite for three months which enabled the detailed research necessary for her work. Aimie lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.
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