Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong

Completion Date: July 31, 2007
Pages: 416
Publication Year: 2007
Received from Random House in 2007

Reason for Reading: The book takes place in Nova Scotia, in the area that is New Brunswick today and becomes New Brunswick during the course of the book. I live in the Maritimes, so I like books that take place in this period.
The epic true story of Charlotte Taylor, as told by her great-great-great-granddaughter, one of Canada’s foremost journalists.

In 1775, twenty-year-old Charlotte Taylor fled her English country house with her lover, the family’s black butler. To escape the fury of her father, they boarded a ship for the West Indies, but ten days after reaching shore, Charlotte’s lover died of yellow fever, leaving her alone and pregnant in Jamaica.

Undaunted, Charlotte swiftly made an alliance with a British naval commodore, who plied a trading route between the islands and British North America, and travelled north with him. She landed at the Baie de Chaleur, in what is present-day New Brunswick, where she found refuge with the Mi’kmaq and birthed her baby. In the sixty-six years that followed, she would have three husbands, nine more children and a lifelong relationship with an aboriginal man.

Charlotte Taylor lived in the front row of history, walking the same paths as the expelled Acadians, the privateers of the British-American War and the newly arriving Loyalists. In a rough and beautiful landscape, she struggled to clear and claim land, and battled the devastating epidemics that stalked her growing family. Using a seamless blend of fact and fiction, Charlotte Taylor’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Sally Armstrong, reclaims the life of a dauntless and unusual woman and delivers living history with all the drama and sweep of a novel.
When I saw this book at the store I originally thought it was non-fiction, but it turns out that she originally planned it to be non-fiction and could not find enough information, so it has correct details but she filled in the unknown facts with her own ideas. She has a rough idea of Charlotte's life, but she doesn't necessarily know the exact truth, so she researched the most logical choice.

I was really intrigued by this book because Charlotte Taylor is not the sort we learn about in school, and I think that is a real shame. She was the first female settler on the Mirimichi. The Mirimichi is a river, for those that do not know. How she ended up in the New World is not known, so that is one of the factors that Armstrong guessed how it happened by the details that she did have. The first child that Charlotte has is with the lover that meant her leaving her family home. When she gets to the New World she will have 3 husbands and several children. Upon her death she had over 70 grandchildren which is a rather staggering number, but make sense for the times.

She was a fantastic woman to read about. She forged a life for herself in the New World and did not bow down to the men that thought she was speaking outside her rights as a female. She owned her own land, defended her family, kept the family fed in the winter months, and had a spirit that was known throughout the land. She was simply a fascinating woman to read about and to hear about all the things that she did as a woman growing up in a very hostile and unsettled world, especially after living the first twenty years of her life in a very good home where she did not have to lift a finger.

I loved reading about this woman, and even if the geography does not interest you this woman's indomitable spirit is an inspiration for everyone. I strongly recommend this book about one of the most interesting Canadian women I have ever read about.


  1. This does sound really interesting! I've added it to the list! My TBR list that is!

  2. Hello Kailana

    I was borned at home, minutes out of Tabusintac and I know a place call Miramichi not Mirimichi, I am not sure where Mirimichi is from. I hate to be rude because everything about Charlotte Taylor is admirable, I am the very great,great grand daugther of William Drysdale born in Scotland and came with others on British vessel to the Miramichi. I am related to him from both side from my mom and dad. Michel Steven Mc Grath from Cork Ireland as my very, very great grand father. I am a blend of Aboriginal, English speaking ancestors, as well as French who some where Austrian back in the 1500". I know history is meaningful and I can only appreciate history good or bad,