Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Thad Carhart's Across the Endless River ~ Reviewed
Across the Endless River
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
From the acclaimed bestselling author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, a historical novel about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, and his intriguing sojourn as a young man in 1820s Paris.
Born in 1805 on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was the son of the expedition's translators, Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau. Across the Endless River compellingly portrays this mixed-blood child's mysterious boyhood along the Missouri among the Mandan tribe and his youth as William Clark's ward in St. Louis. The novel becomes a haunting exploration of identity and passion as eighteen-year-old Baptiste is invited to cross the Atlantic in 1823 with young Duke Paul of Württemberg.
During their travels throughout Europe, Paul introduces Baptiste to a world he never imagined. Gradually, Baptiste senses the limitations of life as an outsider. His passionate affair with Paul's older cousin helps him understand the richness of his heritage and the need to fashion his own future. But it is Maura, the beautiful and independent daughter of a French-Irish wine merchant Baptiste meets in Paris, who most influences his ultimate decision to return to the frontier.
Rich in the details of life in both frontier America and the European court, Across the Endless River is a captivating novel about a man at the intersection of cultures, languages, and customs.
Jean-Baptiste was taken from a challenging frontier life and spent five years in Europe observing the luxurious and at times frivolous lifestyle of the European royalty. His descriptions and experiences within these unique contrasts made Across the Endless River a fascinating read.
The author excelled in characterization and description helping me to feel like I experienced some of Baptiste's moments along with him. The research and historical detail added richness to this story.
A slower plot made for a more literary read vs. a page-turning, action-packed one. Some adult themes and scenes would make the book appropriate for adults only or for parental screening. I recommend this book to history buffs and I hope to read more from Thad Carhart.
Reviewed by: Rob Klepfer