Send More Women!

In researching herewilll4blog early Louisiana history, I discovered some racy stuff. Well, a little racy. Those bold Frenchmen who sought their fortune in a wild and unknown country found themselves daunted by one particular trial: no women.

It was hard to be an effective colonist when you were distracted and lonely. What was a man to do? At different times, the Church turned a blind eye to Frenchmen taking up with Native American women. (I always wondered what Native American men thought about that.) At other times, the Church cracked down on such disgraceful activity. Finally King Louis, fond of women himself, decided to solve the problem of his lonely Frenchmen. He sent them French women.

Today, many old Louisiana families proudly trace their lineage back to some of these women. They were chosen from convents and orphanages to insure they were women of good character, and when they arrived in Louisiana, they were carefully chaperoned until they had chosen a husband among the colonists and were married by a Catholic priest.

Because each bride-to-be was provided with a small chest, a casket, of basic needs, they were known as casket girls.

Now, the convents and orphanages were not the only source of French brides to be sent overseas. Prisons and asylums provided young women, as well, unfortunates who had been prostitutes, thieves, criminals. Perhaps these inmates welcomed the chance to become respectable wives, and perhaps some of them had to be dragged aboard a ship headed to a life in the New World, a wilderness where there were not even any croissants.

These latter, more interesting women are the subject of my newest novel, Here will I remain. I hope you’ll explore with me what Fate has in store for these women who have nothing left to lose.


About glcraig

Gretchen Craig’s lush, sweeping tales deliver edgy, compelling characters who test the boundaries of integrity, strength, and love. Told with sensitivity, the novels realistically portray the raw suffering of people in times of great upheaval. Gretchen was born and raised in Florida. She’s lived in climates and terrain as diverse as the white beaches of the Gulf Coast, the rocky shores of Maine, and the dusty plains of Texas. Her awareness of place imbues every page with the smell of the bayous of Louisiana, the taste of gumbo in New Orleans, or the grit of a desert storm. Rich in compelling characters and historical detail, Always and Forever is a sweeping saga of Josie and Cleo, mistress and slave. Amid Cajuns and Creoles, the bonds between these two remarkable women are tested by prejudice, tragedy, and passion for one extraordinary man. Gretchen’s first novel won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Mainstream with Romantic Elements and was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in the Historical Novel Society reviews. Ever My Love, winner of the Booksellers Best Award from the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, continues the story of Cleo and Josie’s families, of their struggle for principle, justice, and love in a world where the underpinnings of the plantation culture are crumbling. Crimson Sky, inspired by the pueblos, mountains, and deserts of New Mexico, evokes the lives of people facing neighboring marauders and drought. Now the march of Spanish Conquistadors up the Rio Grande threatens their homeland, their culture, and their entire belief system.
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