Andre De Javon, a handsome, determined young Frenchman, arrives in New Orleans seeking a place to belong. What he discovers is a world far beyond what he could have imagined. Swept into a world of balls, beautiful women and wealthy families, his new home is a far cry from his life in France. With no surviving family, his goal is to make a name for himself, but he is unsure of what he wants to do specifically. Shortly after his arrival, his friend, Charles du Fray, introduces him to Monsieur Charleviox, a very successful plantation owner. Almost immediately, Andre decides that he wants to start his own plantation.
On top of meeting Monsieur Charlevoix, Andre also meets his daughter, Julie Marie, a stunning girl, but much younger than Andre. He thinks nothing more of it, and returns to the city with Charles, where he meets Gabrielle Ste. Claire. She is a gorgeous young woman, but as the reader soon discovers, she is spoilt, full of pride, vain and flirtatious, and will use her beauty to her advantage.
Andre is persuaded to marry Gabby, though he does not love her, he only lusts after her. Her large dowry convinces him that it is the right choice, and so she gets what she wants. However, she is clearly unprepared for many of the things that come with marriage, and Andre finds it very difficult to deal with her and keep her secrets and scandals from their family and friends.
Years pass, with numerous adventures contained in them, and Andre finds that his only sources of happiness are talking to Julie and reaping the rewards of his land.
Andre now finds himself facing an incredibly difficult situation. What will he do?
Arlette Gaffrey has interwoven history and fiction beautifully in this book. I really loved the depth of the characters and how none were completely stereotyped. The language is easy to understand, but does not lack in descriptiveness. I liked that the relationships in the story all faced unique problems and how the story showed that looks can certainly be deceiving. It was refreshing to see that not everyone in the story had a perfectly happy ending, making it more like reality.
I cannot compare the story to anything I have read so far, though parts of the story reminded me of the movies True Women, The Duchess and The Other Boleyn Girl.
As an Australian, I didn't know much about American history, and even less about New Orleans. This book was a wonderful introduction to the society of the Creoles and the situations that they faced in life. I found the book very interesting and was very happy with the ending, though I wanted to know more about the children. I would love to read a sequel that explores them growing up.
Although perhaps accurate to the society and period, there are quite a few sensitive topics. As a result, I would only recommend this book to older readers, at least 15 or 16 years old.
There are multiple sensitive topics in this book including alcoholism, slavery, sexuality, rape, depression, abuse, violence and suicide.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Brisbane, Queensland Australia