Rachel Lemoyne

Rachel Lemoyne

5.0 1
by Eileen Charbonneau

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Rachel LeMoyne, a mixed-blood Choctaw raised in a Presbyterian mission, knows that her calling in 1847 is to travel to Ireland to feed the starving people there with her own people's life-giving surplus corn. But she never expects to find a husband among the hungry and grief-stricken people--especially not a husband considered to be an outlaw.

When Rachel


Rachel LeMoyne, a mixed-blood Choctaw raised in a Presbyterian mission, knows that her calling in 1847 is to travel to Ireland to feed the starving people there with her own people's life-giving surplus corn. But she never expects to find a husband among the hungry and grief-stricken people--especially not a husband considered to be an outlaw.

When Rachel and Darragh return to America as husband and wife, a new challenge awaits her: they must flee to escape the authorities still searching for Darragh. But with the Irish, like the Blacks and Indians, deemed "unfit for liberty," facing factories posting "No Irish Need Apply" signs, the only place to go is west to the wild country promised to anyone who can survive the journey.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Half-Choctaw Rachel LeMoyne tries to make peace between her Presbyterian upbringing and the Choctaw culture in this simplistic historical romance, which travels the Trail of Tears in 1832, visits Ireland during the potato famine and ends with the 1848 Wagon Trail in Oregon. Chosen by the missionaries and the Indian Council to go to Ireland as a representative of the Choctaw Nation, Rachel brings corn to West Ireland, where starvation is at its worst. There she meets 25-year-old millwright Darragh Ronan, a widower who has lost his entire family to the hunger and who is sent to prison for using his landlord's mill to grind Rachel's maize. Rachel smuggles Darragh out of jail by marrying him, and the newlyweds, now in America and pursued by the authorities, travel west as members of a wagon train. Threats from other Indian tribes, snakebite, a buffalo hunt and tensions with a bigoted wagonmaster punctuate their journey, as Rachel and Darragh journey to Oregon, falling in love in the process. The latest installment in Forge's Women of the West series, Charbonneau's (Waltzing in Ragtime) superficial saga is predictable but partly redeemed by its colorful atmosphere and brave, resourceful heroine. (June)
VOYA - Beth E. Andersen
In 1847 beautiful Rachel LeMoyne, part Choctaw and part French, is a teacher for the Oklahoma missionaries when she and her brother Atoka agree to go to Ireland with a shipment of corn to help the starving Celts survive the potato famine. There Rachel meets the notorious Irish outlaw Darragh Ronan, now hunted by the British, when he repairs the mill that processes the corn and saves Irish lives. Rachel aids in Ronan's escape by marrying him (in name only) aboard the Hammersmith. Once in St. Louis, Missouri, the trio attempts to blend into the background as they work to save for the dangerous trek to a new life in Oregon where Rachel's uncle offers safe refuge. However, a near-fatal attack on Rachel, along with Darragh's (now known as Dare Swimmer) defense of her, force the three to flee again. Countless perils and tragedies during their covered wagon journey serve as a backdrop for the heated romance between Rachel and Dare as they warily inch toward consummation of their marriage. Charbonneau, author of Waltzing in Ragtime (Forge, 1996) and The Randolph Legacy (Forge, 1997), based this novel (part of The Women of the West series) on a little-known international event. This is sexy, well-researched fare for fans of historical romances. [Editor's Note: Charbonneau also wrote the well-received saga of three generations of an 1800s Catskill Mountain family with mixed French and Native American roots, which began with the YA novel Ghosts of Stony Clove (Orchard, 1988, pb Forge/Tor, 1995) and proceeded to two seemingly adult novels, In the Time of the Wolves (Tor, 1994/VOYA April 1995) and Honor to the Hills (Tor, 1996/VOYA June 1996)]. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P S (Readable without serious defects, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
When the Choctaw nation, forcibly exiled from their lands in Mississippi to the Oklahoma Territory, read of the famine in Ireland, they sympathize with a people suffering the cruelty of hunger and the tyranny of foreign ruletwo evils with which the Choctaw are well acquaintedand they resolve to send their surplus corn to the starving people. Their messenger is Rachel LeMoyne, the missionary-educated daughter of a mixed blood famous for his diplomacy. It is this sympathy for another dispossessed people that inspires Rachel to save Irish rebel Darragh Ronan by marrying him and bringing him home to the New World. But even the classless society of America is ruled by prejudice, and when Darragh, defending his new wife, kills a man, they are forced to flee again to Oregon, enduring the cross-country trek that brings hardship and strength, old enemies and new friends, and an enduring love. Charbonneau (Waltzing in Ragtime, LJ 7/96) has melded disparate historical events, real people, and fictional characters into a compelling tale of clashing cultures, religions, and classes transformed by the challenge of the American frontier. Recommended for popular collections.Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA
School Library Journal
YA--This fictional story is based on a footnote from the March 13, 1847, diary entry of Gerald Keegan, an Irish school teacher and victim of the Irish Famine of 1845-1850. Rachel LeMoyne is a mixed-blood Choctaw student in a missionary school in Oklahoma when her teachers select her to accompany them to Ireland to help distribute corn to the starving multitudes. Well researched and beautifully written, the story takes readers from Oklahoma to Ireland, where Rachel meets Darragh, an Irishman who assists in her project and is declared an outlaw by the English. The couple marry and return to America; they journey first to St. Louis, and then across the frontier to Oregon. Along the way, readers learn about the Trail of Tears, the settlement of the West, and the many pioneers who peopled the area in the 1840s and 1850s. Hardships, difficult river crossings, and snakes make for an eventful narrative. This is an engaging, exciting tale with some romance included. Teens will like the array of characters of all ages and backgrounds. This crossing of the continent is one of hope and dreams fulfilled in Oregon.--Linda A. Vretos, West Springfield High School, Springfield, VA
Kathe Robin
What a fabulous and different portrait of the 1840s....[A]n extraordinary tale of bravery, selflessness and courage peopled with unforgettable characters and a most remarkable woman. Rachel Lemoyne should be read by every western, romance and historical reader to fully understand the place women held in our history. Bravo to Ms. Charbonneau! Sweet.
Romantic Times

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Rachel LeMoyne
Nanih Waiya, MississippiThe Choctaw NationOctober, 1832prologueNanih Waiya, MississippiOctober, 1832 
Rachel's mother wrapped tiny Sleeps Sound close against her heart. She took Rachel's hand and walked, tall and beautiful, to the white elm tree nearest their cabin door. Rachel's parents had planted the elm when Atoka was born. It was now finely made, like her brother Atoka, lifting its branches like a fountain from the ground, its leaves reaching for the warm October sky. Atoka's afterbirth had been its first nourishment, as Rachel's was for the oak planted five years later.Rachel's tree was in the shadow of her grandmother's white oak, and was the oak's child. The counselor oak told the Choctaw the place to build their homes. Its roots went deep in rich soil. Its wood was both strong and beautiful. Someday Rachel's small tree would be wise. She would advise the time to plant corn--when her new pink and silver leaves are the size of the mouse's ear. But who would hear the wisdom?Another of the grandmother tree's children now grew from Sleeps Sound's birth gift. Rachel worried about her new sister'sseedling. Once they set off on their journey, the Americans would take over the lands and cabins of the Choctaw. Rachel knew enough of Americans to be afraid for Sleeps Sound's tree. She wanted to cry for it, and to cry for her sister, who would not remember the ancestral home of the people except in her deep dreaming.Rachel was named LeMoyne from her father's French ancestor, Rachel by way of the missionary teachers who baptized her a Christian. But she'd also earned her first Choctaw name, Yalabusha --Tadpole--for her swimming prowess. Some had begun to call her Gathers Stories, too, for the way she listened to the old ones. She would tell her sister of this day, of their mother leading the women in this new ceremony, born of their circumstances. She must heed every detail, every sound and smell. What was the bird called, who flew down the branches of Atoka's elm? A shy, tufted titmouse, offering a lament. The song stopped suddenly. Then all was silent, even the season-change cold wind.Her mother stroked the leaves of Atoka's elm against her face. Jagged dancing leaf, spiraling out, in an off-center swagger, like her brother's stride after slipping off his horse. The leaf was rough to her mother's touch, and still dark-blue green. Green, like Atoka in his ten summers of life. Her mother moved on to the oaks. She took their sunset-colored leaves between her hands, to her cheek--both the bright, touched-by-sun sides, and the pale underbellies. She bent a branch of the grandmother tree down to Rachel.Rachel took a red leaf between her fingers. Thank you for the shade, and the welcome into your limbs, and the seed pockets that Atoka and I made into whirl toys and nose ornaments. Rachel let the thoughts flow through her fingertips to the oak's understanding. In return she felt the tree's strength, and sorrow at parting. Felt its blood singing another lament.Her mother took her hand, led on. The women followed Elizabeth LeMoyne, honoring their trees in farewell, proceeding to the next homestead, and the next, stroking the leaves. Some wept silently. None of the children, who ranged in age from elevenyears to Turtle Woman's six-day child, were afraid of their mothers' wet cheeks, Rachel thought.Finally, down the road from Makes Sweet Cider's cabin, the federal soldiers waited, their blue uniforms striking against the gray sky. This journey would not become the horror that last year's group faced, their leader, Captain Armstrong, promised. Peter LeMoyne's clear voice translated the captain's English into Choctaw. Atoka sat tall on his mount Likes Water, beside their father on Two Hearts. Her brother's eyes were angry and cold until they found hers. They lit with a gruff tenderness then--for her, their mother, the baby. We honor you, they said. Carry the seeds in your pouches. We will bring you to the new land. We will live again.Surely the vicious snowstorms and cold of last year were unusual, unpredictable. This year's band was departing earlier. The steamships would be waiting at Natchez to carry them up the Mississippi and its tributaries. From Little Rock they would walk to their new land. Last year hundreds had starved when heavy rains washed out roads and trails, slowing them to fifteen miles a day. Not this year, Captain Armstrong proclaimed. This year President Jackson had put the army in charge.Worry strained Rachel's father's clear, beautiful voice. He was a Mixed Blood, trusted like the ones who'd gone to Washington. Peter LeMoyne had not gone, had not signed his name to the agreement, but looked after his family and all the ones left behind. He'd met Andrew Jackson once, though, on Choctaw land. He had seen the American leader lose control of his temper. Old Hickory disliked asking for anything, her father had said. He preferred to threaten. There were only two choices, Andrew Jackson said, for the people standing in the way of progress: emigration or extinction. And now this man who had turned on his wartime allies, the Creek, was President of the United States. It was time to think about the new country, even Peter LeMoyne advised.Still, when the men returned from Washington and told him of the agreement, he had walked out to their woodpile alone.Rachel followed. It was the only time she had seen her father weep. Now his eyes scanned small wagons loaded with provisions for six thousand. How many blankets, how much food, would it be enough? Rachel almost heard his thoughts.The other leaders and their horses were dressed in their finery, gifts of the Americans. As if this were festival time, or a celebration, not an exile. Peter LeMoyne wore his red wedding-day shirt and buckskin trousers. No decorations, only that symbol of his love for their mother. And his worry.Rachel wanted to climb on Two Hearts with him, and mold his face free of troubles. She wanted to be a peacemaker, trusted speaker among the missionaries and the soldiers, like him, there in the new land. And she wanted to do the dances and ceremonies, like her mother.At the school, the missionaries said she could not do both, that she must choose. They had shown Rachel a globe of the world, and the place from where the English language had come. It was a small place, surrounded by blue. An island. But those who spoke the language of these islanders had power over all the world, and over the greatest parts of its wisdom and knowledge. The missionaries said the only way for the Choctaw people to become happy and respected was through this people's language, its ways, its great God who said that men should do women's work in the fields and women stay inside a house the day long. When she'd asked her father about these things, he'd smiled and said, "Know them, Tadpole, but swim as you're guided by your own heart."He would teach her how to find the things that made the Choctaw kin to the white people who also dwelled in her Mood--not only her Frenchman grandfather, the one who drew wonderful likenesses of the Old Ones, but the English speakers too, the Americans. The Americans did not visit or trap only. They did not become Choctaw, as her French ancestor had. They wanted to live, not beside them but instead of them. They called Choctaw land the Southern Frontier and came with their black men slaves. They wished to work the land for cotton instead of the Three Sisters--corn and beans and squash. And for tobacco.Cotton was for clothing, tobacco for ceremonies. What would they eat, these new, foolish people, Rachel wondered, without the Three Sisters?Rachel turned toward the horse soldiers. Some had eyes that reflected the sky, like Atoka's gift from their Frenchman grandfather. Nothing else about the soldiers was like her brother. They were not a dark and shining people, but whey-faced light and hairy. One, with yellow hair that sprouted all the way to his chin, pointed rudely at her mother. Why? Was he laughing at her ceremony, her grief? His eyes were greedy. Rachel didn't understand what he wanted, but she knew it was something bad. The soldier beside him pushed his shoulder. Rachel knew English almost as well as Choctaw, she was her father's "quick study." But these soldiers spoke the language in a different accent. They were from another English place, far from Mississippi, perhaps. A hard place, she decided, for they ground their R's like corn through a mill. Rachel could not understand all their words.Suddenly, from out of the small grove of pine by Makes Sweet Cider's cabin, an old man stumbled. His clothes were ragged, his eyes hollow with grief. He spread his hands wide as he chanted.My voice is weak. It is not the shout of a warrior but the wail of an infant. I have lost it in mourning , over the misfortunes of my people. These are their graves, and in those aged pines you hear the ghosts of the departed. Their ashes are here, and we have been left to protect them. Shall we give you their bones for the wolves?Chief Cobb. Rachel barely recognized him. Atoka slipped down from his saddle and approached their elder. Her father spoke to the soldiers in English. Yellow Hair did not listen. Heshouted at her brother, barking orders in too-fast English. Atoka ignored his threats and calmly took the old man's arm, leading him into the woods where three women rushed toward their kin.They were in the soldier's path. His horse bore down on Chief Cobb, the women, and her brother, at a gallop.Rachel hissed "stay" followed by a sharp whistle. The horse stopped so abruptly the whey-faced officer almost catapulted over his saddle. He regained his seat, but not his lost face ... how do the white people say it? His dignity.Atoka put Chief Cobb on the arm of his eldest daughter. The women guided him back into the woods.Peter LeMoyne watched, the reins of Atoka's mount in his hands. The pride in his children had banished even the worry from his eyes, Rachel thought. She basked in the pride, smiling. Then she took her mother's hand for the long journey ahead.Copyright © 1998 by Eileen Charbonneau

Meet the Author

Eileen Charbonneau is the author of Honor to the Hills, In the Time of the Wolves, Rachel Lemoyne and The Ghosts of Stony Clove.

Eileen Charbonneau has written for The New York Times and co-wrote Endowment for the Planet, an award-winning educational film narrated by Christopher Reeve. Her highly praised young adult novels include The Ghosts of Stony Clove, In the Time of the Wolves, and Honor to the Hills. Eileen Charbonneau lives in Philomont, Virgina.

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Rachel Lemoyne 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This intensely rich historical novel transported me to a previously unknown era where Irish and Amerindian cultures collided and intermingled through the powerful characters of Rachel Le Moyne and Darragh Ronan. These deeply human characters—and the lives they lived in unimaginably dangerous and challenging times—educated and inspired me. Rachel’s moral strength and wily capabilities continually surface in surprising ways. She emerges as a true heroine—the kind of person we want to know—and become like—especially in these complex times. I highly recommend this unique, imaginative and inspiring novel! It is more than highly crafted; it is full of wisdom.