Savage Lands
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Savage Lands

2.96 of 5 stars 2.96  ·  rating details  ·  341 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Louisiana, 1704, and France is clinging on to a swampy corner of the New World with only a few hundred men. Into this hostile land comes Elisabeth Savaret, one of 23 young women sent from Paris to marry men they have never met. With little expectation of happiness Elisabeth is stunned to find herself falling in love with her husband.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 10th 2010 by Harvill Secker (first published January 1st 2010)
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Savage Lands begin in 1704 when a group of French Women are sent to the Louisiana Territory to become brides to the settlers there. One of those women is Elisabeth and upon arrival weds Jean-Claude Babelon and for who-knows-what-reason she falls madly in love with him. Also in the story is Auguste who is a bit of a spy or something and after spending time further north with one of the Indian tribes (Savages) returns to Mobile and becomes close with Elizabeth and Jean-Claude.

I could go into grea...more
This is a good book, provided you do not expect any romance, characters that are appealing, attractive, charming, or even nice, or expect early 19th century Lousiana to be anything but the worst frontier experience ever.

Elisabeth leaves France for Lousiana with a green silk featherbed, and books carefully tucked away. She is snapped up in marriage by a man with whom she falls in love to the point of madness, a madness that takes her to one ugly place after another. A boy named Auguste arrives on...more
I didn't care for this latest novel from Clare Clark. I picked this up right after finishing Clark's 'The Great Stink'.

While 'The Great Stink' is not going to be for everyone I thoroughly enjoyed it and was eagerly looking forward to reading another book by Clare Clark. Unfortunately the writing styles of the two books are very different. I found the writing in 'The Great Stink' very well thought out, focused and very detailed. In 'Savage Lands' I felt like there was a lack of focus and not eno...more
This really might be one of the worst books I've ever read. It was unbelievably dull, and not one of the characters was likable. Funny thing, apparently when girls lose their virginity, they also lose all personality and independent thought. Who knew? Clark has a way of searching arduously for an unusual description or piece of imagery that feels labored and often is just distracting ("lettuce-pale" sticks in my mind).

I dare you to find a single page in this novel that doesn't use the word "sava...more
I got this from a Goodreads give away.

As a fan of historical fiction (possibly my favourite genre), I was quite excited when I received this book in the mail. However, that excitement quickly dissipated.

The real problem with this book for me were the characters. Everyone felt one-dimensional and frankly, not very likable. I couldn't bring myself to root for a single one of them - and I liked Elisabeth in chapter one. Even as new characters are introduced in the second half of the book, it didn't...more
Won this book on goodreads, and was really looking forward to reading it. The first chapter started out with the author being very descriptive, and I loved her writing style - looked forward to reading the rest of it. Right away in the second chapter, one of the two main characters appeared and was obsessed with the sensual things around him. I just can't bring myself to continue reading this book. I don't like to read around sex related stories, skipping around to get to the story line. Yes, th...more
It is 1704 and the King of France is ruling Louisiana, a new colony with just a few hundred people. When a demand is sent requesting wives for those struggling in the vast Louisiana swap, Elisabeth is among the twenty-three girls who set sail from France to be married to men of whom they know absolutely nothing. Educated and skeptical, Elisabeth has little hope for happiness in her new life. Elisabeth finds herself in love with her new husband, Jean-Claude, a charismatic and ruthlessly ambitious...more
This book wasn't what I expected and though I managed to finish it I was disappointed.

I had this idea in my head that I was going to get a good solid historical romance which included a focus on the intriguing idea of a bunch of girls shipped off to a colony to be married to complete strangers. I felt quite disoriented to get a few pages in to find Elisabeth in her house and happily married - what on earth was the rest of the novel going to be about?

Clark clearly knows a lot about the era, but...more
Mike Shoop
French Louisiana in 1704 was a vast, mostly unexplored wilderness, with fewer than 200 colonists living there. Clark's book really gives a vivid and realistic picture of the environment settlers of Mobile and New Orleans faced: constant sickness, with hordes of insects, rats, and alligators, substandard housing, bad government, Indian attacks. The novel follows the lives of several characters, including Elisabeth, one of the "casket brides" sent out from France to marry a colonist; Auguste, a ca...more
Helene Harrison
ISBN? - 9780099546641

Publishing? - 2011 by Vintage (first published 2010)

Genre? - Historical / Romance / Drama

Characters? - Elisabeth Savaret / Jean-Claude Babelon

Setting? - Louisiana (U.S.A.)

Series? - N/A

Title? - French women going to live in 'savage' America

Character Analysis? - I thought that the characterisation in this novel was weak. There were too many characters introduced too quickly and most of them were minor. To push the story along the characters needed to come across more strongly....more
Laura Stone Johnson
In 1704, while Louis XIV is living in the luxury of Versailles, less than 200 hardy souls are struggling to maintain the French colony of Louisiana. It is to this vast colony that strong-willed Elisabeth Savaret is sent as one of 24 "casket girls" who've committed to marry virtual strangers there. Much to her surprise Elisabeth falls deeply and passionately in love with her intended, ruthless and resourceful Jean-Claude Babelon.

Simultaneously we meet young Auguste Guichard, who since the age of...more
Paula Hebert
set in new france, before new orleans was even an idea, and mobile had a population of less than 200 people, savage lands is a refreshing perspective, based on fact, of the beginnings of america. we mostly think of new england and the east coast as the beginning of our country, forgetting that thngs were happening elsewhere. french speculators were busy making money and spreading wild rumors about the ease and richness of france's new colony; gems and precious metals just laying on the ground to...more
Tara Chevrestt
Fans of The Sand Daughter will probably love this as it has the same style as it goes back and forth between Elisabeth and Auguste. Elisabeth is a French girl who agrees to travel to the New World (early America) and marry an unknown man in exchange for a mere 15 sols a day and trunk of linen and lace. August is an adolescent boy left with a tribe of Indians to monitor them and report back to his Commander of their doings.

Elisabeth's parts started out interesting enough. It takes gumption to go...more
Savage Lands is the gripping tale of Elisabeth Savaret, a book lover who comes to Louisiana from France in the 1700's to become the wife of a person she hasn't even met for a stipend to her family. She becomes the devoted wife of Jean-Claude Babelon, a handsom ensign who is not what he seems. It also tells the tale of Auguste, a quiet cabin boy who is left with the Ouma indians by his captain to learn their ways and language so he can be a guide and translater between their peoples.

As Elisabeth...more
Synopsis: It is 1704 and, in the swamps of Louisiana, France is clinging to its new colony with less than two hundred men. Into this hostile land comes Elisabeth Savaret, one of twenty-three women sent from Paris to marry men they have never met. With little expectation of happiness, Elisabeth is stunned to find herself falling passionately in love with her husband, infantryman Jean-Claude Babelon.
But Babelon is a dangerous man to love. And when Elisabeth finds her love challenged by Babelon’s d...more
This book is well-researched, but told in a rather confusing style and the characters weren't really appealing to me. Also, I would have liked to read more about everyday life in the colony.

German review:
1704. Die junge Elisabeth Savaret soll nach Louisiana auswandern, um dort einen ihr unbekannten Mann zu heiraten. Die Kolonie braucht dringend Frauen für ihre Männer, und Louisiana wird als eine Art Paradies beschrieben. Die Realität sieht natürlich anders aus, die Einwanderer sind bald gezeich...more
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Oh, what a maddening book!

The premise sounded wonderful when I discovered it on the longlist for the Orange Prize.

In 1704 a few hundred men were struggling to maintain a colony in Louisiana. Young women were sent from France to join them. To support them as their wives, to raise children and build a community.

One of them was Elizabeth Savaret, an orphan who had been raised by an aunt and uncle. Because it was their duty. She had little chance of finding a husband at home, but the New World held...more
Geordie Peacock

This is a big and baggy novel, whose peaks and climaxes can slip by unnoticed due to the omnipresent and laboured sense of mystery that the novelist strives to create. This sits quite nicely at times with the remote and perilous landscape of 18th Century Louisiana, and Clark's characterisation is pleasingly spare yet evocative; the relationship between Elisabeth and her husband could easily slip into melodrama for example. Clark instead manages to convince the reader of its frustrating reliance...more
This book had a lot of promise. The plot sounded interesting, as it is premised on French women traveling to the New World to marry colonists. Unfortunately, only the premise was interesting. The execution was terrible and I could only bear to read about half of it before I decided to read something else. Life is too short to waste on a bad book!

The book centers on two main characters. Elisabeth is one of the girls who travels to France and falls in love - the author tells us this, but never sh...more
Byron Varvel
This novel was just about average. I loved how the author conveyed the ideals of French Louisiana (New Acadia) in this book. Her novelized illustrations were very robust and she transferred scenes very well in her book. Her research was masterful but as other authors have pointed out as I will that all novelists need to have the eyes of a historian and a soul of a writer otherwise you will lose your non-historian audience when writing a story.

Character development needed some work in the book, i...more
Lisa Kearns
I received my copy of Savage Lands free in exchange for writing a review. I usually enjoy historical fiction, and I certainly enjoyed this book. I found myself thinking of it at odd moments, and looking forward to reading some more.

I knew almost nothing about the settling of Louisiana and New Orleans, except that the Creoles are of French descent and New Orleans is below sea level. I am familiar with mail order brides from reading stories of the American West, and was surprised to know that Fran...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘When the leaves return I shall be married.’

In 1704, the French colony of Louisiana is struggling: fewer than two hundred men living in a land which is as much an enemy as the English. Ms Clark’s descriptions of the land, of its heat, humidity and insects provide a richly described backdrop for the lives of the three people around whom this novel revolves.

Elisabeth Savaret is one of twenty-three women sent from Paris in 1704 to marry men they have never met. Elisabeth brings with her precious bo...more
I feel my response to this book was much closer to 3.5 stars than 4 but I'll give it the benefit because it is well written.

As with 'The Nature of Monsters', Clark does a wonderful job of creating the ambiance of its 18th century setting. Here one can almost feel the oppressive heat and bleak conditions that the settles had to deal with. It was easy to appreciate the tenuous hold that they had upon the land and it is quite amazing that the colony eventually prospered.

However, she seemed to be r...more
Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this one. I remember liking The Great Stink and The Nature of Monsters when I read them many years ago, so I thought I'd give this one a shot. Turns out I was bored most of the time, I didn't care about any of the characters, and the plot was pretty much non-existent.

Clark's prose was poetic enough to be borderline pretentious without managing to tell you anything. Also, she had a weird habit of describing people as putting their fingers in their eye sockets....more
This was my 3rd Clare Clark read and my least favorite. 1704 Louisiana Territory and while the subject matter was good, I didn't like her writing style. To much of back and forth in time and close relationships with no "lead in" story time to them, they were just suddenly there. I found myself even having a hard time (or maybe disinterest) in following the storyline. I did learn several things about the time period…."casket girls" (young girls who were sent from France to Louisiana as wives for...more
Excellent writing and research beautifully evoke early 18th century Louisiana and the dangerous conditions for 'mail-order' brides (and other settlers, explorers, etc.) These young women could not have anticipated how tough life would be, nor had I imagined the pestilential conditions; the protagonist is one such young woman, and in her the novelist has created a unique character who does not satisfy the historical romance recipe for female lead characters. She is pretty much on her own in a sma...more
Set in Louisiana in the early years of the eighteenth century, Savage Lands is the story of Elisabeth Savaret, a young girl despatched to the colony from Paris as one of a cargo of young women sent out to become wives for the colonists, and Auguste Guichard, a soldier who has grown up among the natives.

The life of the nascent French colony - little more than a huddle of wooden shacks built beside a swamp - is vividly evoked in Clare Clark's dense, exquisitely turned prose.

It's a style that make...more
Farhana Faruq
I received this book through the Goodreads give-aways. Thank you so much Ketty.

I had wanted to read it because of the Louisiana history, I however never expected I'd enjoy it so much.

The story itself is engaging, and covered topics I'm interested in (Native Americans, Louisiana, history) making it that much more worth while.

I loved the writing style used with past and present intricately weaved and details slowly revealed.

The novel is very well researched and the author has kept a lot of the or...more
Couldn't get into it. The writing didn't hold my interest. Too many things happened over the course of just a few paragraphs (being on a boat and someone being a governess and meeting your husband and not having enough what and chickens what in the world all in two pages). Too bad, I was looking forward to reading this.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

CLARE CLARK is the author of The Great Stink, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and The Nature of Monsters.
More about Clare Clark...
The Nature of Monsters The Great Stink Beautiful Lies

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