The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor

Wow, Wow, Wow!! What an amazing woman and what an amazing story. I can pat myself on the back for finding this book all by my lonesome. What made me choose it? A comment from a reader on the web said “In 5 years of our book club… this was only the 2nd book that was unanimously loved by our whole group.” The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor is written by Sally Armstrong. You probably recognized her name from Homemaker’s Magazine. More recently, she’s an author and human right’s activist, reporting from Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda and Afghanistan. Her great, great, great grandmother,  Charlotte Taylor, was one of the very first women to settle in what is now New Brunswick. As a young girl she fled from England to Jamaica with her family’s black butler, causing such a rift in the family that she never heard from any of them again. When Pad, her lover, dies she’s alone in this far off land with no prospects of a decent life anywhere near what she left behind in England. Through the grace of Commodore George Walker she ends up on a ship bound for the east coast of Canada where she’s told she can soon catch another ship back to her family in Britain. But she never sets foot on that ship. How can she, she’s pregnant with a black servant’s baby. From the moment she sets foot on Canadian soil, her life story becomes mingled with the history of New Brunswick. She lives among the Mi’Kmaq for awhile, marries 4 times (all husbands die tragic deaths) and manages to raise 10 children. It is a totally engrossing story that at times made me think that all generations of women since are slightly wimpier than the last. I just can’t imagine the hardship, loss, vulnerability, and back-breaking work that she was forced to endure. This is a riveting book. It’s found in the fiction section of the bookstore, but based on fact. Armstrong did a huge amount of research into her family tree to pull it all together, and she does it really well. She’s a wonderful writer. I can see why any book club would unanimously agree that it is one of their favourites.

Comments (1) »

  1. Claire Said,

    December 5, 2011 @ 7:47 am

    Hi Linda-

    I look forward to reading about your ongoing finds…Maybe even get some great ideas for new reads. My book club is a diverse group, so I’ll suggest the Nine Lives title.

    Regards, Claire

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