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Publishers WeeklyIn his debut novel, inspired by Longfellow's epic poem of the same name, Farmer builds a compellingly detailed historical foundation for a story that unfortunately falls flat. Thanks to British forces' 18th century "Great Expulsion" of Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia), French lovers Evangeline and Gabriel end up hundreds of miles apart. Describing their new lives, and Evangeline's subsequent cross-country journey to find her fiancé, Farmer delivers an evocative impression of American colonial and frontier life; his descriptions of everything from the Maryland frontier to a Louisiana swamp settlement give a real sense of the New World's newness. His characters are less well-conceived; though Evangeline and Gabriel's romance is realistically complicated by personal faults and long separation, Farmer doesn't invest enough in the couple early on to keep readers' interest. Supporting players, including an arrogant priest and a depressive trapper, add little, and narrative jumpiness proves supremely frustrating. Despite (or perhaps because of) a meticulously-rendered setting, Farmer's characters remain underdeveloped, sabotaging the passion-driven plot.
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