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Thomas B. Costain
Doubleday & Co., 1949, 371 PP
Philippe and Félicité, both orphaned in colonial French Canada as toddlers, find their lives together with a close association with Charles le Moyne, the Seigneur of Longueuil and head of the powerful Le Moyne family of Montreal.
As the eldest of eleven sons, Charles runs the family's affairs from Montreal while the other brothers divide their time between defending France's new world empire and seeking to expand it westward along the Great Lakes and southward through the Mississippi Valley. Growing up on the Le Moyne estates, Philippe and Félicité meet and fall in love at a young age.
They celebrate with the Le Moynes when Pierre le Moyne returns triumphantly from Hudson's Bay after, with a single ship, defeating three ships and capturing Ft. Nelson from the British. Further victories follow as Pierre and younger brother Jean-Baptiste explore America's Gulf coast, build a fort at what is now Biloxi, Mississippi and lay plans to build the city of New Orleans. They also share the family's heartbreak when news reaches them that Pierre has died of a plague in Havana and later when news that younger brothers Antoine and Gabriel have died while traveling down the Mississippi to join Jean-Baptiste in New Orleans.
The Le Moyne family sees the opportunity to carve out a vast empire on the North American continent for the King of France. But the King does little to help and his greedy advisors hinder progress as they seek quick riches from the venture at the expense of long term success. Despite these obstacles, the Le Moynes forge on at great personal loss in terms of both the lives of the brothers and the family fortune. Pierre and Félicité eagerly join the Le Moynes in the venture and are forced to take losses as well as both have to leave their beloved New France for swamps of the south and Félicité agrees to marry the sadistic son of one of the King's corrupt advisors in exchange for Jean-Baptiste being allowed to keep his post
as Royal Governor of the New Orleans colony that is being built with Le Moyne blood, sweat and money.
This is an action packed historical novel about the origins of New Orleans and its French Canadian founders.
The review of this Book prepared by Chuck Nugent