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Savage Lands

2.99  ·  Rating details ·  475 Ratings  ·  121 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
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
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
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
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Jun 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, a novel set in the early eighteenth century, mostly for what I learnt about the early days of colonial occupation of the southern states of America - a part of history I have been quite ignorant about. It provided a vivid account of the early European settlers and native Americans in particular. The practice of sending expendable, vulnerable people to far off lands was repeated over and again. It is barely removed from slavery.

In this case, a young French woman is one of ma
Jan 11, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am just not quite sure what to think about Savage Lands. My two stars is probably more like 2.5. The time period was interesting and the author certainly didn't whitewash anything about life in that place and time. A few characters were interesting and the descriptions were rich, but the plot just wasn't compelling enough to keep me engaged. All the action occurs off-stage, so to speak. It's referred to obliquely, and you have to pick up bits and pieces of what happened as you read on. This is ...more
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Worked hard to finish this book. Wish I’d abandoned it. It felt like it could get really interesting but never got there, somehow. High quality writing, but story somehow lacking. Characters all hard to like. Not recommended!
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Different, but really enjoyable....
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
May 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
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
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
Lisa Kearns
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
May 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 25, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it
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
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
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I received a free copy of this book for review via First Reads.

So far, this has been interesting. I've never heard of casket girls before. I thought the description of Elisabeth at her desk for the last time was touching.
Some of her analogies are really strange. I'm spending a lot of time trying to figure out what she means by some of them. I thought maybe English isn't the author's first language, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe she's trying too hard to be clever.

Finally picked 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...