This was my first novel by Jocelyn Green, but I was intrigued the moment I read its premise. A young midwife, after being falsely convicted for the death of a client, is able to have her prison sentence commuted if she will join a convoy of those going to help populate Louisiana in 1719. Leaving her native France and everything she knows in the hope that she might be able to find her brother who disappeared in Lousiana two years earlier, Julianne sets out on a lifelong journey which will be much more than she could have imagined.
From the very beginning, John Law and the Company of the Indies has more planned for the immigrants, who are mostly orphans and prisoners, than they were aware. Before they set sail, Julianne and the rest of the women are forced to choose husbands from among the men. The goal of the Company is to have as many French babies born in Louisiana as possible, bolstering the population and their claim on the colony. Julianne is wed to Simon, a kind man but also a firebrand willing to stand up to the oppression they find themselves under.
Life is hard during the journey and as they settle in to their new home. Julianne can't find anyone who knows anything about her brother, but she begs Simon to be on the lookout as he ventures farther from New Orleans with the employment he's found. Meanwhile Julianne tries to start up a midwifery practice and face the memories of the last birth she attended and all the pain that has stemmed from that day.
The loss in this book is heartbreaking and yet realistic. Everyone in the story faces so much grief and hurt as they try to forge a life in this untamed land. Green does an amazing job with the sights, sounds, and smells of eighteenth century Louisiana, as well as the range of emotions our characters experience. This is a thick book, but I never wanted to put it down. I will certainly be looking to read more stories from this author in the future!
I received my copy of the book from LitFuse Publicity. All opinions in this review are my own. If you would like to read what other people are saying about "The Mark of the King," click here.
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