Sarah's Reviews > The Meeting Place

The Meeting Place by Janette Oke
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical, good-books

In the place we now call Canada, descendents of French and English settlers live separate but peaceful lives. Their villages exist side by side, yet they keep no contact because of centuries-old hostilities between their old homelands.

Across the Atlantic, England and France are fighting again. The British governing forces in Acadia are forcing the French-descended Acadians to swear an oath to the King. The Acadians may be willing, had there not been a demand in the oath that they take up arms for the King. The Acadian people refuse to take up arms for France, why would they do it for England? Still, the British refuse to see that fact and view the Acadians as the cause of real or imagined problems.

Into this atmosphere, an unlikely friendship is born. Catherine - a British woman - and Louise - an Acadian - meet one day in a meadow. Catherine speaks a little French, so they can communicate some. Their meetings are not frequent, not at first. But they slowly begin to grow closer. Catherine studies French again to speak better to Louise. They study the Bible together. Catherine even visits Louise's village.

Catherine and her husband can see that the Acadians are not dangerous, nor are they an enemy. But sadly, no other British officials share their views. One day, it all comes to a head, as the Acadians are rounded up and sent off for other colonies - Louisiana, Charleston, New York, etc. Divided so that they can not come back together. In the midst, the unthinkable happens - children
separated from their parents. Will the parents ever see their child again when they are a so far apart?

I really enjoyed this story, so much so, that I read it almost in one sitting (I had a free evening). I liked how Catherine and Louise's friendship was portrayed. They seemingly have nothing in common, yet they discover that all their differences don't really matter. What bonds them most, although not the first thing, is reading the Bible together. God is what brings them the closest. They would do anything for one another, even though their heritages say they should be enemies.

Another theme is that not all citizens or descendents of a certain heritage, culture, or country are enemies. The Acadians were French Huguenots (they were Protestant not Catholic) who wanted to live in peace. They so desired to be left alone, that they would not raise arms for their own "mother country"! Terrible things can happen when we create stereotypes and then shut our eyes to any outliers. Yes, stereotypes occur for a reason, and yes, they are usually accurate for most of a group, but, we cannot ever refuse to see that a stereotype is not all-inclusive. Sorry if I'm on soapbox here. I just liked how Oke and Bunn got across that idea without being preachy or political. It was very well done.

Now I have to get the next book, because the ending was heart-wrenching!
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