I was fortunate to be in Quebec City just after reading 'Promised to the Crown.' A look at the Ursuline museum and other places that depict the French arrival in this part of the world certainly added gravitas and depth to Runyan's fictional account of those early days of the colony.
The filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”, were young women who in 1667 answered the King's call to leave France for the new world of the northern american continent in Quebec. They were to become brides of the colonists, helping to populate the land and turn an outpost into a thriving colony. The king provided a dowry for the brides. The brides were housed with the Ursuline order until their marriage. (I found the courting afternoon teas under the eyes of the nuns interesting. It is a picture of controlled getting to know you. And how were the young women able to verify the conditions they might be going into was a big question for me? If a settler was outside the city who knew the condition of his living quarters? This was a huge gamble for some of these women--although in the days of arranged marriages perhaps not as big as I think).
For some of the women it was a chance to escape their current situation, for others a chance to start afresh. For whatever the reason, it was not an easy task. Experiencing the bitter winters, the loneliness of a frontier place, the increased threat of illness; the brides were either brave or women with nothing to lose, or perhaps a bit of both.
This is the interwoven story of three such women, Elisabeth, Nicole and Rose. Three women from very different backgrounds who become fast friends. Their journeys reflect the aspirations and sometimes desperation of the young women who took up the challenge. And the challenges are many! The friendships forged by these women on the journey would come to stand them in good stead.
A fascinating look into the French past of Canada. The characters are believable and Runyan has woven a compelling story around each of these women's lives and their intersection.