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Monday, January 13, 2014

Refugees from the French Revolution and Quakers living on the American Frontier? Really?

Higgins, Joanna  (2013)  Waiting for the Queen:  A Novel of Early America  Minneapolis:  Milkweed


So from this blurry cover photograph it will be clear that few boys will be willing to even touch this book -- girl in a blue dress with songbirds and a rose -- no way -- which is too bad, because it is a good one.  The girls (probably sixth grade and up) will likely enjoy it (My students read it aloud to me during a ten hour drive to Northwest Iowa for a conference -- and proved that college studnets find it interesting).

Eugenie is a fifteen year old girl who, along with a group of fleeing nobles, manage to escape the French Revolution by fleeing to the new world.  Eugenie has lived her entire life in luxury with deferential servants and unbelievable wealth.  Their intention is to build a new city of luxury with the gold they have brought with them.

Hannah Kimbrell is an American and a Quaker.  She and her family are helping to build homes for the newcomers.  What they find, however, is that the French are upset that the buildings are no more than log cabins and that their new American servants speak out of turn and do not bow properly.  (The Quakers believe that all people are equal and that no man should bow to another.

The book starts off a bit slow, and for a while we only hear of Eugenie (who is not, initially a very sympathetic character) but by about a third of the way into the book it really starts to pick up steam.

There are some really interesting themes here -- patience versus impatience; slavery versus freedom; adaptability versus tradition, and a few more.  This might be a good book for a class to study -- well, at least the girls. 











 

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