Monday, May 18, 2009

A World of His Own: In the Land of the Creoles

Arlette Gaffrey
Outskirts Press (2008)
ISBN 9780978889104
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (4/09)

André de Javon, a young man who was whisked out of France before the French Revolution claimed the lives of his parents, has decided to seek his fortune in the New World. A chance encounter with Charles du Fray on the ship crossing the ocean makes him pick New Orleans as his new home. Once there, he's warmly welcomed by Charles' family and introduced to people who matter, among them two who will greatly change his life. One of them is Jean-Claude Charlevoix, a smart, successful and rich planter with a young daughter, Julie. M. Charlevoix will become instrumental in André's choice of career and in his successful introduction to the life of planters. The second person is Gabrielle Ste. Claire, a very charming and very spoiled young lady, who immediately sets her sight on marrying André. Although it becomes clear rather early that Gabrielle is of the "pretty is as pretty does" kind, and what she does is not pretty, André succumbs to her charms – or maybe simply to his lust – and ends up marrying her. In so doing, he breaks the heart of Julie Charlevoix, who "was hurrying to grow up to be able to marry him," but was not quick enough.

The marriage to Gabrielle proves to be a nightmare, and after a series of horrific events Gabrielle ends up dead, leaving André with the child she conceived with another man and also with the realization that he has never loved her and was in fact in love with the sweet Julie from the start. Does he still stand a chance with Julie or is all lost?

"A World of His Own" is a sweet and in many ways a very touching story, made even more so with the great amount of references to New Orleans and Louisiana - their history, culture and people. Opening the book at random, here are just a few of them: the Ursuline convent, quadroon balls, sugar cane, cotton, plantations, galleries, lagniappe, pralines, Congo Square, voodoo, Jean Lafitte, General Andrew Jackson, coffee shops… If any of them are unfamiliar to you, you need a refresher in New Orleans living, so come on over and visit as soon as possible!

I found "A World of His Own" by Arlette Gaffrey a pleasant and enjoyable book, and one that fans of romances in historic settings will enjoy for sure.