Angelíque and the Burning of Montreal
Angelique is a young African slave woman living in a household in Montreal in the early 1700s. When a great fire wipes out a large section of the city, she is accused of setting the fire. The story is narrated through the activities of a Corporal in the Compagnie Franche de la Marine, Pougé Monbéton, who loves a good case and pursues the truth compulsively. In this case, he is ordered to stay away from the investigation, but he cannot help himself from following it, increasingly horrified as he is by the scandal and collusion of the hierarchy of government officials that lurk beneath what is proclaimed as true. As we follow Monbéton's investigation, we discover a great deal about French law in Quebec but also how local officials are perverting those laws in ways that benefit them, to the detriment of the accused. We also experience the extreme Forbidden to interfere, our protagonist speaks out only at the execution of the condemned woman. This novel is a study of a society and its relationship to human nature. Our protagonist longs to save the young woman, but he, like every other person in the story, fears being sent back to France or some other form of punishment.
Lizée writes well. The story line is clear and compelling, and the plot unfolds with suspense and all the appropriate pacing. A good copywriter would have helped to remove typos, although they may be the result of the conversion to epub. Lizée has also written three other books about French Canadians: La $a$katchewan, Olivier de Beauregard, and Who Killed Etienne Bastarache?
I strongly urge those interested in the history of Canada and of Quebec in particular to read this book.
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)