Brazil Red

Brazil Red

5.0 1
by Jean-Christophe Rufin
     
 

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"Brazil Red tells the story of two orphaned children, Just and Colombe, who are dragged off on the French colonizing expedition - they are meant to learn the native languages and act as interpreters. Everything in this novel is outsized: the setting, a jungle still populated by cannibals; the characters, including Villegagnon, the expedition's eccentric leader, who… See more details below

Overview

"Brazil Red tells the story of two orphaned children, Just and Colombe, who are dragged off on the French colonizing expedition - they are meant to learn the native languages and act as interpreters. Everything in this novel is outsized: the setting, a jungle still populated by cannibals; the characters, including Villegagnon, the expedition's eccentric leader, who might be a model for Cyrano de Bergerac or d'Artagnan; and the events, a dress rehearsal for the Wars of Religion ten years in the future." Brazil Red is a novel about coming of age and discovering love. On a deeper level, the story follows the destinies and decisions of Just and Colombe, presenting two conflicting views of man and nature. On one hand, a conquering European civilization, offering liberation but delivering death. On the other, the Indian world, with its sensuality, its harmony, its sense of the sacred, its continual call to happiness.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A page-turner that won the Prix Goncourt in 2001, Rufin's third offering (after The Abyssinian and The Siege of Isfahan) fits neatly into the romance novel mold of beautiful maidens, brave knights and dastardly villains. The story centers on the plight of two 16th-century French orphans, Just and Colombe, who are tricked into joining a colonial expedition to subjugate Brazil. The enterprise is commanded by Chevalier Durand de Villegagnon, a colonist whose actual memoirs provided Rufin with some of the details that inspired this novel. Once across the ocean, Villegagnon prematurely dubs Brazil the "New France" and sets about combating his enemies: the hot Brazilian sun, the native residents and the Portuguese, who claimed sole right to Brazil long before. Years roll by and as the action proceeds, a question hovers portentously over the book: will the orphans grow up to be cruel colonialists or secular humanists who appreciate the Indians' wisdom? Rufin provides plenty of rousing action, yet somehow, despite the author's historical research, the book never rises far above melodrama. This is partly due to tired word choice and to the playlike structure of scenes that end with a conveniently chiming clock or thunder in the distance. Mostly, however, it is the natural consequence of the novel's overly neat divide between good and evil. Agent, Lucinda Karter. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Departing from the African setting of his previous novels (The Abyssinian), this Prix Goncourt-winning author uses the French colonization of Brazil in 1555 as the catalyst for his latest historical adventure. The expedition begins with the rounding up of children so that they may learn the natives' language and act as interpreters upon arrival. Orphan siblings, Just and Colombe, are thrown into a motley mix of soldiers, ex-convicts, and religious fanatics. The harsh realities of seafaring and the complications of conquering and converting a foreign jungle landscape and its cannibalistic natives bring the colonials to a roiling boil. Tempers flare between Catholics and Protestants, and Rufin illustrates how the conflagration of politics and theology among the Europeans heralds the Wars of Religion that will follow ten years later. But the orphans' personal discoveries and the chaos that engulfs the enigmatic yet flawed colony leader, Villegagnon, provide the true emotional axis. Rich period detail, compassionately drawn characters, and mounting tension create an atmosphere in which history and ideas come to life. Recommended for most collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/04.]-Misha Stone, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393052077
Publisher:
W W Norton & Co Inc
Publication date:
07/19/2004
Pages:
429
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.36(d)

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