I have some close friends from Louisiana that are so in love with their state and the life they had there. I have been there briefly once but otherwise knew little about it. After reading this book I understand what they are talking about.
The time is 1949. Ellie Fields wants to break out of her family’s preconceived ideas about how her future would be and have some adventure! That opportunity comes when she is offered a teaching job in the Bernadette, Louisiana. She sets off alone from her comfortable home in Alabama in her 1939 car she has named Mabel.
What she finds is a far cry from what she expected. She finds she will be teaching 12 grades alone. The children are terrified of teachers due to some abusive discipline the school board wants enforced when children speak their native language, French. The housing she is provided is only accessible by a fairly long boat ride and her home has no electricity or indoor amenities. She is really out in the boonies alone! Such a culture shock! Ellie is determined to stay and do the very best job she can. I loved her fearlessness, grit and determination to face challenges head on and to be a part of the community. Raphe Broussard, a lifetime resident, becomes a source of encouragement and guidance she needs to settle in. He is trying to raise his orphaned nephew. A job he definitely feels unqualified for. Little do they know a powerful politician has evil motives to do harm to the sleepy community to clear the way for his financial advancement.
The characters and town were delightful. The deep caring and commitment they had for each other is something I wish was everywhere. Their lives were poor and even backward, but they were so content and happy! I was swept away by the author’s beautiful descriptions of the bayou, and the simple lifestyle of the people. I felt so peaceful and relaxed, and pictured myself sitting on their front porches, looking out at the water, no TV, phones, or internet to distract. Pure pleasure! I felt a longing to go and experience it. I learned so much about the Cajun heritage, traditions and personality! One surprising thing about the book was that when most would end, this one was just beginning. I enjoyed the excitement and mystery! I either couldn’t put the book down because I was caught up in the beautiful moments or because I had to see what happened next! A book you want to read!
I received this book from Revell Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.
I loved this novel too – such a deep sense of the place it is set!