The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor

The First Woman Settler of the Miramichi

Book - 2007
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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. Excerpt from from The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor: Every summer of my youth, we would travel from the family cottage at Youghall Beach to visit my mother's extended clan in Tabusintac near theMiramichi River. And at every gathering, just as much as there would be chickens to chase and newly cut hay to leap in, so there would be an ample serving of stories about Charlotte Taylor. . . She was a woman with a past. The potboilers about her ran like serials from summer to summer, at weddings and funerals and whenever the clan came together. She wasn't exactly presented as a gentlewoman, although it was said that she came from an aristocratic family in England. Nor was there much that seemed genteel about the person they always referred to as old Charlotte. Words like lover and land grabber drifted down from the supper table to where we kids sat on the floor. There were whoops of laughter at her indiscretions, followed by sideways glances at us. But for all the stories passed around, it was clear the family still had a powerful respect for a woman long dead. We owed our very existence to her, and the anecdotes the older generation told suggested that their own fortitude and guile were family traits passed down from the ancestral matriarch. For as long as I can remember, I've tried to imagine the real life Charlotte Taylor lived and, more, how she ever survived.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2007
ISBN: 9780679314042
Branch Call Number: 921 TAY
Characteristics: xv, 397 p. : map ; 22 cm

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m
molly
Mar 24, 2015

This is a marvellous read. Written in fiction style ie with dialogue etc. Very entertaining.
Don,t know how I could have missed it. I love the setting.

c
Cecilturtle
Dec 15, 2013

Armstrong takes us on an adventure ride through the pioneering life of Charlotte Taylor. The beginning is swashbuckling, excessive perhaps, but as Charlotte arrives in Canada, the tale take a perfect rhythm of adventure, discovery and learning. Armstrong balances a description of the times while pulling from history and teaching readers about the Micmac, Acadians, Loyalists and later settlers, the politics that ensued and the insecurities it created. The hardships and joys are not overly dramatised; the story flows well and all the characters ebb in and out in a fluid fashion while retaining the attention on Taylor.

There a few weaknesses - the sections that Armstrong invented are admittedly the weakest (Jamaica in particular) - too colourful and melodramatic to be taken seriously. She also can't help but infuse a modernist look at the over-development of land and displacement of Native Americans. I'm not sure a settler would have these concerns given the magnitude of the land and the incredibly harsh conditions for survival.

Overall an entertaining and instructive read.

s
someone2
Mar 16, 2013

Please hold a copy at Stoney Creek library

carolelintonmacfarquhar Oct 04, 2011

Straight forward narrative. Strong local flavour.

b
becker
Feb 16, 2011

This was an interesting book. I learned a great deal about the Miramichi and enjoyed the story of this amazing tough lady.

b
budster
Aug 18, 2008

I enjoyed reading about the history and early settlement of New Brunswick and this personal story of a young woman who tended to be the proverbial square peg in a round hole. She overcomes so many challenges that one pauses to wonder what you might have done in the same circumstances. Not a dry dusty biography but an adventure and celebration of a woman's life written by one of her many great great great (and perhaps even one more great) granddaughters who researched this bio. through many sources not excluding stories told around the table at many family get-togethers.

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carolelintonmacfarquhar Oct 04, 2011

carolelintonmacfarquhar thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

b
budster
Aug 18, 2008

budster thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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carolelintonmacfarquhar Oct 04, 2011

Runaway young English gentlewoman copes with a never-ending string of crises in the new world. Generally set in NE New Brunswick.

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