Madeleine's Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France's Indian Ocean Colonies
Winner of the Society for French Historical Studies 2017 Pinkney Prize for the best book in French history.
Madeleine's Children explores the changing meanings of slavery and freedom in France's empire through the life stories of a particular family from through three revolutions and two abolitions. The epic tale follows Madeleine, a Bengali girl enslaved to a French spinster in India, to France, and then to Isle Bourbon (now Réunion Island). After her death, the youngest of her three children, Furcy, launches a decades-long struggle for freedom in the courts of France and Britain. Over the course of their lifetimes, from 1759 to 1856, the conditions of slavery and freedom change all around them, and are redefined by their struggles. The gripping story of Madeleine and her children is especially well-suited to exploring the developments of French colonization, plantation slavery, race, sugar cultivation, and abolitionism. A fluid narrative, it should have appeal for readers of the history of slavery, world history, Indian Ocean history, and French colonial history.
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