La Rochelle France, 1661. Fierce Protestant Isabelle is desperate to escape persecution by the Catholic King. Isabelle is tortured and harassed, her people forced to convert to the religion that rules the land. She risks her life by helping her fellow Protestants, which is forbidden by the powers of France. She accepts her fate — until she meets a handsome Catholic soldier who makes her question everything.
She fights off an attack by a nobleman, and the only way to save herself is to flee to the colony of Canada as a Daughter of the King. She can have money, protection and a new life — if she adopts the religion she’s spent a lifetime fighting. She must leave her homeland and the promises of her past. In the wild land of Canada, Isabelle finds that her search for love and faith has just begun.
Based on the incredible true story of the French orphans who settled Canada, Daughter of the King is a sweeping tale of one young woman’s fight for true freedom. Kerry Chaput brings the past to life, expertly weaving a gripping saga with vivid historical details. Jump back in time on a thrilling adventure with an unforgettable heroine.
Trigger Warnings: Violence, sexual assault
Let’s talk about New France, shall we?
Colonized by France in the Sixteenth Century, France’s connection to the vast area of North America called “New France” can still be seen today. From the French tinged Cajun in Louisiana to the old-world French still heard in Quebec and Montreal, France made its mark on North America.
Daughter of the King tells the story of a French orphan working a life of servitude in Rouen, France. Born a Huguenot (French Protestant), she has only known a life of struggle under the pressures of Catholic France. When she fights for her life, she must face punishment for her crimes, or convert and set sail for Canada as a Daughter of the King. Given a dowry, a trousseau, and complete control over her life is an opportunity she could never have imagined. But it comes with a great price — turning on everything she believes in.
So, what about life in New France? The early settlers enjoyed endless food but extreme winters. They built their houses and hunted their dinners. They had land and freedom. But one thing was missing. There were few women. Many men found themselves falling in love with women from the local Algonquin and Huron tribes. Others returned to France out of sheer loneliness. The King agreed to send over women to solve the population problem. But who? No women would dare leave their homeland for such a wild place. So, they recruited orphans and servants who had little other opportunities and presented an offer they couldn’t refuse.
There is a rumor that has circulated over the years that the Daughters of the King were prostitutes from Paris. This could not be more inaccurate. These young women had to pass certain restrictions, including a vow of purity, confirmed by their local priest. They had to be of a certain age with no physical defects or abnormalities. As the program developed, the girls were not recruited from cities as much, as the country girls were better able to handle the harsh conditions of New France.
And what awaited them in Canada? Well, their choice of men for starters. The limited number of women compared to the hundreds of settlers allowed them to hold interviews, deciding which man would provide the most comfortable life. Most did not think of love, only about hunting privileges and a home with a fireplace. Some married right away, given a farm and money to start their new life. The men were grateful to be chosen, as it meant money and a woman to share this difficult life with. Others waited, or some joined the convent. The women who married were paid for each baby.
Another twist that was completely unexpected for the time — the women were married in civil ceremonies, not the church. Quebec was a town fully integrated with the Catholic Church. You could not separate the two. Why then, would they marry by a notary and not a priest? So they could break their marriage contracts if they wished to. Yes! Separation was allowed because they hadn’t been married in the church. To encourage these women to agree to this new life, the King agreed to give them freedom. He needed women to know that New France was a place to prosper and thrive. And they didn’t want word getting back to France that Canada was somewhere to be feared.
Most modern-day French Canadians are descended from at least one of these eight hundred “Daughters of the King.” These women were strong, capable, and truly brave. They carried that spirit on to their children, who carried it onto their children, and so on. Married life in Canada shifted the dynamic of husband and wife. Research shows that these women had longer life expectancies and higher fertility rates as compared to their French counterparts. They did have to contend with Iroquois threats, wolf attacks, freezing winters, and a hard, lonely life in a struggling colony. But they proved that giving women power was nothing to fear. It helped their colony grow and prosper, and ultimately, changed the future of North America.
Meet Kerry Chaput
Born in California wine country, Kerry Chaput began writing shortly after earning her Doctorate degree. Her love of storytelling began with a food blog and developed over the years to writing historical fiction novels. Raised by a teacher of US history, she has always been fascinated by tales from our past and is forever intrigued by the untold stories of brave women. She lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon with her husband, two daughters, and two rescue pups. She can often be found on hiking trails or in coffee shops.
Connect with Kerry
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kerry-Chaput/e/B08123S61Z