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Reviewed by Hayley Haun for Readers' Favorite
Charlotte: La Beauté et La Tragédie by Tom Gauthier brings you into the world of Les Filles de Roi—the daughters of the king. These young French women were sent to marry and populate within the Quebec colony. Gauthier spins not just a tale of characters in a historical fiction novel, but also a story plucked from his family tree. Readers meet one of these daughters, Charlotte Roussel, and the man she married, Pierre Gautier dit Saguingoira. Both became notable figureheads in their community. However, at the beginning of any community comes strife. Vengeful Iroquois attack frequently, killing as they go. Many colonists fear for their lives. Many lose their lives and all they built. Despite the hardships that come from working in the colony, Charlotte and Pierre raise a family and persevere the best they can. Their lives are not forgotten, and neither are their sacrifices or progeny.
Gauthier said, “Unless you can view the wilderness, feel the precarious situations, through the eyes of the tiny Charlotte, and the ambitions of a maturing Pierre, you will miss the human experience of all those people you have just read about.” I believe he was right. You cannot fathom those experiences—you must feel them through the writing and the stories. Gauthier puts the reader in the characters' shoes. In doing so, he gives the reader a glimpse into the characters’ lives. I would never have been able to comprehend it if it were told from an omniscient perspective. The history, the people, and the setting contained in Gauthier’s novel come alive through historical evidence and creativity.