The View from Rampart Streetby Mary Lou Widmer
In sultry, tempestuous New Orleans of the 1840s, the frontier port was bustling, the theater was all the rage, and a system called placage ruled the lives of beautiful young Quadroons. These lovely girls were the daughters of wealthy white Creoles and their mulatto mistresses, trained all their lives to be placees, mistresses of white Creole gentlemen. In return for their favors, the placees were each given a house on Rampart Street, furnishings, and a life of luxury.
Forced into this decadent but respected system, Mariette Delon, a beautiful Quadroon with skin like a magnolia petal, rebels against it, wishing only to pursue a career in the theater and lead a moral life.
Against her will, she attends the Quadroon Ball, where such alliances are arranged and contracts signed. Here she meets handsome young Philippe Grillet, a wealthy aristocrat who tells her she should not be a placee but the wife of a Creole, reinforcing her innermost desires. But her father has his own plans for her, and it is up to Philippe to save her, first by accepting a life-threatening challenge, and finally by pursuing her across the continent to claim her for his own. Only then is he rewarded with a gift more precious than gold.
Mary Lou Widmer is an author, former teacher, and historian. She has been published twelve times in both the fiction and non-fiction fields. Among her novels are Night Jasmine and Lace Curtain.
- Strategic Book Group, LLC
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I really enjoyed reading this book. I had never heard of placage and had to research the topic just to make sure it was factual. My research showed me that the author really knew the historical setting of the story well. Mariette at times was annoying, especially towards her mother that ended up being treated like a maid. Plillipe made some ridiculous choices that had me wondering about his mental capacity. Desiree had to be the most tragic character of all. Life and the times that she lived in placed her between a rock and a hatd place. Raoul was just despicable.
Could not put it down, page after page keeps you on the edge of your seat. Beautiful story of a young girl who grows up in the early twentieth century in a secret life of her mother and her contracted affair with Mariette's father. Captures the feel of how life must have been for privileged individuals of mixed color in the heart of New Orleans. Instead of following in her mother's footsteps, Mariette is determined to marry the love of her life, a wealthy Creole. They go through great lengths for each other to enjoy their personal goals and their desire to be married with one another. If you are a fan of Night Jasmine, you will love this one!