Isle of Canes

Isle of Canes

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by Elizabeth Shown Mills
     
 

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Shown Mills is a historical writer who has spent her life studying Southern culture and the relationships between people‹emotional as well as genetic. A popular lecturer, author of numerous works on generational history, and past president of the American Society of Genealogists, Elizabeth recently retired as editor of the National

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Overview

About the Author:

Elizabeth Shown Mills is a historical writer who has spent her life studying Southern culture and the relationships between people‹emotional as well as genetic. A popular lecturer, author of numerous works on generational history, and past president of the American Society of Genealogists, Elizabeth recently retired as editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly to devote her time to writing. Isle of Canes is her first novel.

Editorial Reviews

Lalita Tademy
Mills is a master story teller, bringing to vivid life untold pieces of our country’s hsitory.
author of the New York Times bestseller Cane River
Historical Novels Review
A masterpiece. You may never look at American history the same way again.
City Social Magazine
In language that flows like poetry... issues of race and social standing are portrayed with an honesty that is rare in southern literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593313067
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
09/01/2006
Pages:
583
Sales rank:
665,632
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 8.92(h) x 1.22(d)

Read an Excerpt

“Papa? More gruel? We must keep up your strength.”

François barely heard the words. His mouth moved mechanically as the warm mush was injected, but his mind struggled feverishly to find some meaning to his life.

Coincoin. His little goddess. His and Fanny’s gift to a world that had given them so little. Long ago, or was it yesterday? He had sat out on the edge of a broad hill and watched his little girl grow up. No, she didn’t grow up, either. She had always been grown. What was it he had thought that night? That Destiny surely had greater things in mind when she created this woman-child? Yes! Fanny’s destiny was not dead! She had bequeathed it to this daughter, and Coincoin would fulfill it! Only she didn’t know! Fanny had not told her!

A rash of words then spilled from his swollen lips as he gave his second-born daughter answers to all the questions he and Fanny had never let her ask; as he bared to her his soul, his sins, his failings, as though she were a priest administering to him the last holy rites; as he sang for her the praises of his princess that were not sung at her ignominious burial and then lay before Coincoin the key to her past and the door to her future.

As suddenly as it had come, the tempest from François’s soul subsided and he lay still. For hours, or minutes, it could have been either Coincoin sat in the shadows of the great four-poster that ruled over the little cabin they called home. Death this day had wrenched from her the only meaning her life had known, the very source from which she had sprung. Yet, for what it took, it gave a measure in return. Over and again her mind repeated a single line from the communion prayer that the reverend father chanted at each Sunday’s Mass: Dying, he gave new life. Dying, he gave new life. And in her grief, Coincoin felt no sense of sacrilege at this blurring of the image of her father and her Savior.

She rose, slowly, as tall and graceful as the goddess he thought she was. Bending across the big bed, she kissed her father good-bye. No fear of mortal plague could come between them at this last parting for she, too, shared her father’s knowledge that the hour of her destiny had not yet come. She still lived, because she was meant for something more in life than that which life had given them. The vague ache she had always known deep within her soul had a name now, and she knew its meaning and her mission.

“One day, Papa, Mama!” she cried, thrusting her face toward heaven as she pounded with both hands on the bed post where Fanny had fallen. “One day, Mama’s dream will happen! One day, we shall be free again! Free! And proud! And noble! And men will bow before us, and we will never have to say ‘Yes, Madame’ or ‘No, Madame’ to anyone unless we choose to. We will be free! This, I promise!”

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What People are saying about this

Lalita Tademy
The name Mills has long been synonymous with Cane River history. Elizabeth's books on the river's people were a window into the past for me when I began my own search for enslaved forebears.
author of the New York Times bestseller Cane River

Meet the Author

Mills is a historical writer who has spent her life studying Southern culture and the relationships between people

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4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dutchy More than 1 year ago
I have found this book fascinating. The characters come to life with the descriptions on their history. The book makes me think about different points of view on the south. It is a very well written historical novel, you are there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this book, I stepped into a past I had not previously understood. Historical fact was blended so well with the story surrounding the characters that I felt like I knew some of these people who actually lived and went through heart-wrenching times. Yet their pride in who they were, their search for joy where they could find it, and their courage in living life as it met them, came through in triumph. These historical characters became SO REAL.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Isle of Canes is a powerful story you can¿t put down until you¿re done and won¿t forget even then. Raw and unflinching, painful but uplifting in the end, this true story of one family¿s rise from slavery to slaveownership goes far beyond anything yet put into print. Edward Jones¿s intriguing Known World tried to explain this troubled side of history; but his fictional family shows only one dimension, the stereotypical ex-slave-corrupted-by- former owner. Isle of Canes goes far beyond the stereotype, graphically exposing the dire consequences of what it was like to be ¿free people of color¿ in the slave South, as well as the emotional conflicts suffered by this forgotten caste that historian Ira Berlin calls ¿Slaves without Masters.¿ The author¿s foreword speaks of her three decades of studying mixed-race families, and the depth of her understanding is evident in this four- generation saga of a real Creole family and all that it lived through in 18th and 19th century Louisiana.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Isle of Canes is a highly successful depiction in miniature of southwest Louisiana history from the early 1700's to the early 1900's. The author skillfully weaves a complex tale of freedom vs. the institution of slavery against a backdrop of Spanish, French, and American governmental regimes. The settlement and development of the Isle of Canes is followed through four generations of interconnected families. A must read!