CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 7 . . . .November 25, 2005
The 1759 Siege of Quebec is a popular topic for writers of historical fiction, though the villains and heroes alternate with each telling. In this “Dear Canada” offering from Maxine Trottier, the event is recounted by young Geneviève Aubuchon or Miguen as she was named at birth by her Abenaki mother. For her, the British are definitely the bad guys.
Orphaned at an early age as a result of a raid on their village, Geneviève and her brother, Chegual, were taken in by a well-to-do French Canadian apothecary and his wife. Being older, Chegual’s identity as an Abenaki warrior was already too established to change, and when he was old enough, he went back to his people. Geneviève, on the other hand, has adapted well to her new life, and has no desire to leave it. So when war with the British lands on her doorstep, she is horrified at the prospect of losing everything. Little by little, she watches her world crumbling as the British bombard Quebec with cannon fire. Soldiers are wounded and die, homes are destroyed, and the town is ransacked and then taken over as the British overpower the pitiful resistance manned by the French. Chegual and his friend, Etienne – along with other Abenaki warriors – lend their support to the French army, but to no avail. Etienne eventually dies in battle, and Chegual receives a wound that would have killed him if not for the tireless nursing of his sister.
As a result, Geneviève’s gentle demeanor changes, and she is filled with hate for the English and Scottish soldiers who have taken over Quebec. It is only through the help of others who care for her and through a promise made to God that she is able to find inner peace once more. Trottier’s version of the Siege of Quebec renders itself different from other accounts because of the narrator. Being an Abenaki girl turned French Canadian, Geneviève’s take on the situation is unique, and it is interesting to learn how the siege affected the First Nations segment of society.
Otherwise, the novel isn’t particularly stimulating. It begins slowly, providing little in the way of action to motivate youngsters to read on. The tone is morose, and the diary format makes the story feel choppy. Furthermore, limited attention is given to the political aspects of the siege, so unless readers are already familiar with the event, they may be unclear about the historical causes and ramifications. The Death of My Country is not a bad book; it’s just not a great one.
Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria, BC, and writes for children.
on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.