After the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier is imprisoned and branded, marking her as a criminal beyond redemption. Hoping to reunite with her brother, a soldier, she trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling French colony of Louisiana. The price of her transport, however, is a forced marriage to a fellow convict.
New Orleans is nothing like Julianne expects. The settlement is steeped in mud and mosquitoes, and there is no news of her brother, Benjamin. When tragedy strikes, she turns to military officer Marc-Paul Girard for help, but does he know more about her brother than he will admit?
(excerpt from back of book)
The Mark of the King is one of those books that stays with a reader. Although I was unfamiliar with Green prior to this, I was easily impressed at her writing style with its passionate inclusion of well researched history, its intriguing drama through realistic looks at early colony life, and her strength in writing out the turmoil of her characters lives.
I love it when an author's passion for her subject carries over to the reader and, I confess, this reader finished the book eager to learn more about a period and place in history of which I know shockingly little. Green's inclusion of historical events as well as her recommendations for further reading show her own investment into the stories which inspired the characters of Julianne and Marc-Paul.
I was also struck by her honesty when it came to writing pain. Green makes little attempt to gloss over the circumstances her characters would have encountered in early New Orleans including famine, disease, loss, attacks, weather events, and division within the settlements. As the readers main eyes and ears, Julianne seemed especially prone to the experiences of these losses which make them all the more relatable for readers.
That said, I found Julianne a sympathetic character at times but not relatable. With little exploration of the colony outside Julianne's, whose social circle was notably small due to events within the narrative, it felt like everything negative was being heaped upon her head while life continued on for the rest. While this would probably have been an accurate feeling should the character have been real it did get hard to read at times amidst the constant crisis. (I should note I like my clean happy endings so my opinion is slightly biased ;) )
Even with this in mind The Mark of the King still provides an overall gripping novel that provides an interesting introduction to early French colonial life in Louisana.
4 out of 5 stars
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."