The Mark of the King
by Jocelyn Green (Goodreads Author)Sweeping Historical Fiction Set at the Edge of the Continent
After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.
When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne's brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?
With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king's mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.
My Review: 10/10
This book was phenomenal. I had never heard of Ms. Jocelyn Green before now, so I thought she was a new author. I have never been so glad to be mistaken! I cannot wait to get my hands on her other works. But first, The Mark of the King:
This novel was a perfect blend of history, faith in action, spiritual growth, realistic relationships (friends, family, romance), with a little mystery and suspense thrown in. The characters had so much depth and were challenged to be more than their circumstances or emotions. It was inspiring. It was very interesting to see how people changed based on their choices. It made me think about how we take so much for granted- even our character. What don't know what we're capable of unless we've dealt with some of these issues- famine, war, loss, etc. It gave me a greater appreciation for shades of gray, understanding how people can start down dark paths, and grew my compassion.
Ms. Green did not gloss over the hard stuff, painting everything rosy and easy to put to rights like so many do. It was downright painful to read at times and there was more than one scene that had me so affected that I had to wait a while before being able to continue. While those are not the kind of things that usually draw me to a book, it really is a testimony to how realistic the characters are and how emotionally invested you become in their lives. It's good to be so touched sometimes. Necessary even.
The story changes perspective a lot and I was impressed with how convincing each point of view was; whether it was our protagonist (25 year old female), a native child, or a man, it was believably written and so smoothly done that it didn't halt the story at all.
I loved the rich historical details. It simultaneously gave me a glimpse into history in a way I've never experienced before, and also made me aware of how little I can imagine what colonizing our country was like.
The themes of forgiveness, loving your enemy, and prayer was wonderful. They were woven into the story naturally and simply, so that the messages were powerful and convicting, and didn't seem showy, preachy or out of place.
I loved that this was from a French perspective, which is rare among the historical fiction I read. I wish I could go into particulars, but so much happens in this story, that saying anything specific would probably be a spoiler. I can't recommend this book enough.