Title: Madeleine: Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans
Author: Wanda Maureen Miller
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Copyright: April 1, 2021
Format: E-Book, 272 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Southern Historical Fiction
In 1728, beautiful, resourceful Madeleine Boucher is one of the last group of poor young girls given modest dowries in trunks, or casquettes, by the French government-then shipped off to America, where they are intended as wives for the French settlers in the Louisiana Territory. Despite a series of romantic travails, Madeleine remains fiercely dedicated to finding true passion and securing the promise of her new adopted land, free from the prejudices of the past.
The story of Madeleine and the other casquette girls is the story of New Orleans itself. Like the city, they struggled through Indians, hurricanes, fires, and floods. Like the city, they absorbed the shocks and assimilated the dominance of other cultures, while remaining steadfastly French.
Madeleine Boucher is a young woman of humble birth who journeys to Louisiana in the New World. As she leaves behind France and life as a servant, she dreams of the future and the promise that Louisiana holds. As a casquette girl, everything she owns exists in a single trunk. When she arrives in the New World, she becomes one of the most sought-after women, with numerous men wanting to marry her. Despite her popularity amongst the men folk, she dreams of carving out something that is entirely her own.
Madeleine is a beautifully written tale about the struggles of people in early 18th-century America. It felt like this bygone world came to life in the pages of the book. Madeleine is such a fascinating and admirable character, wanting to eke out a living on her own terms. One of the best parts of this novel was the rich characters, who came across as very real and human. They are easy to relate to. The plot is steady and kept me engaged every step of the way. The overall tone is dark, gritty, and slightly mysterious. Another strong aspect is the rich descriptive detail in the prose. All in all, this is an immensely enjoyable read.
Originally featured on the History Novel Society website.