The Nine Lives Of Charlotte Taylor: The First Woman Settler Of The Miramichi

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The Nine Lives Of Charlotte Taylor: The First Woman Settler Of The Miramichi

by Sally Armstrong

Random House of Canada | March 13, 2007 | Hardcover

The Nine Lives Of Charlotte Taylor: The First Woman Settler Of The Miramichi is rated 4 out of 5 by 4.
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 the Miramichi 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.”

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 416 pages, 8.3 × 5.7 × 1.15 in

Published: March 13, 2007

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679314040

ISBN - 13: 9780679314042

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great book about our canandian History!! I was completely surprised on how much history was brought to this book... I loved how there was adventure in the very first chapters and kept you wanting to read more until the very end of the book.
Date published: 2012-02-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from courageous woman settler This book caught my interest by the mere fact that it is written about one of the first woman settlers in the Canadian wilderness. Sally Armstrong, a descendant of Charlotte Taylor, writes about a brave, intriguing woman who did what needed to be done to survive. I found the writing a little tiresome at times, but I am glad I perservered and finished reading the book.
Date published: 2010-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A triumph This novel is richly imagined and thoroughly researched, written with such a flowing style that it was hard to put it down. Charlotte is an admirable heroine, strong and deticated to a new-born Canada that is so rarely written about nowadays. I found myself swept up in the detail of the novel, found myself wanting to know more about early Canada. Charlotte Taylor herself is so unknown that it was a pleasant surprise to learn about her, this daring and courageous woman who broke social taboos left and right and still managed to succeed far more than her fellow settlers.
Date published: 2008-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Story This was a wonderful story of a strong woman who was very much ahead of her times. She made brave decisions & faced extreme hardship. In 5 years of our book club... this was only the 2nd book that was unanimously loved by our whole group. The story was so engaging that I simply couldn't put it down!!
Date published: 2008-06-19

– More About This Product –

The Nine Lives Of Charlotte Taylor: The First Woman Settler Of The Miramichi

The Nine Lives Of Charlotte Taylor: The First Woman Settler Of The Miramichi

by Sally Armstrong

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 416 pages, 8.3 × 5.7 × 1.15 in

Published: March 13, 2007

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679314040

ISBN - 13: 9780679314042

Read from the Book

Chapter 1The Ocean1775It’s just an hour after dawn on the first Monday in May 1775 when the Anton lurches its bulk away from the docks at Bristol and sets sail for the West Indies. Charlotte Taylor is at the rail, rivetted to the huge square sails puffing out like bullies in the wind and bucking the ship into the open sea. A tall woman with ­flame-­red hair tied in a knot at her neck, she keeps her eye to the bow as if setting her own course and her back to the land she has left behind. Standing beside her at the rail is Pad Willisams, her lover and ­co-­conspirator in the hurried exit from Charlotte’s family, Pad’s job as butler in the Taylor household and a truth they each had only a part ­of.A hastily packed trunk is stowed with the cargo. The calico sack she’d prepared for the voyage, and now realizes is pathetically inadequate since the trunk cannot be opened again until they reach shore six to eight weeks from now, is slung over her ­back.A scrofulous man of indiscriminate age eyes her repeatedly from his place by the forward capstan. He’s one of the woebegone collection of humanity she’s travelling ­with–­mostly men in their twenties and thirties and one young boy with freckles on his nose who seems to be in the employ of the haughty Captain Skinner. They all stare shamelessly at the white woman and the black man by her side. Pad has pulled together all the stiff dignity of the butler he had been just days earlier, but she can feel the anxiety that thrums through him.
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From the Publisher

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 the Miramichi 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.”

About the Author

SALLY ARMSTRONG is an Amnesty International award winner, a member of the Order of Canada, holder of 7 honourary degrees, a teacher, journalist, human rights activist, and contributor to Maclean's, Chatelaine and the CBC. She is a member of the International Women's Commission, a UN body that consists of 20 Palestinian women, 20 Israeli women, and 12 internationals whose mandate is assisting with the path to peace in the Middle East. A bestselling author of Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan (2002) and Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan's Women (2008), she is also the author of a fact-based novel about her settler foremother, The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor.

Editorial Reviews

"Charlotte Taylor's story is what you might get if you crossed Susannah Moodie and Jack Aubrey - a delicious character and a great yarn. Sally Armstrong has imagined an ancestor who possesses all the passion and daring that she herself has in abundance, and by the time we had finished our journey together through the trials and  turbulence and the terrible beauty of the early days on the Miramichi,  I wanted to claim Charlotte as my ancestor, too."
–Mary Lou Finlay, broadcaster and former host of As It Happens

Praise for Veiled Threat:

“A brief but brilliant book about the hidden power of the women of Afghanistan . . . written in blazingly clear language, blessedly free of academic pretensions.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Emotionally demanding reading . . . a passionate portrayal of recent events in Afghanistan from the perspective of a committed, feminist outsider.”
The Hamilton Spectator

“A powerful book that shows how women can change the world.”
Toronto Sun

Veiled Threat’s strength lies in its empirical portrayal of the injustices and inhumanities visited upon the Afghan people, especially woman and girls . . . [and] is to be applauded for its emotionally gripping disclosure of suffering and injustice.”
The Globe and Mail

“Sally Armstrong views Afghanistan through the eyes of its women. Her story [of Dr. Sima Samar] is one of hope and triumph, as are most of the tales in this straightforward, uplifting volume.”
The Washington Post

Bookclub Guide

1. Sally Armstrong writes of Charlotte in the book’s introduction, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to imagine the real life she lived and how she ever survived it.” (p. xi) How was your experience of reading this book affected by knowing that it was based on the story of a real person?

2. As Pad lays dying in Jamaica, the degenerate Lutz comments to Charlotte, “Many widows, alone and grieving, are grateful for the support of a proper man.” (p. 34) Does this opinion about the desperate condition of women in Jamaica also apply to the situation in which Charlotte finds herself in New Brunswick? Is her situation better or worse there?

3. Charlotte briefly rues her love affair with Pad, thinking that he may have survived if they had never left England–and that she would not be in her current predicament. Had it not been for her romance with Pad, do you think her life would have taken a more conventional path?

4. During her first Christmas in Nipisiguit, Charlotte is treated to a fireside ceremony with her new Acadian and Mi’kmaq friends. “There in the wilderness, by the light of the fire and surrounded by the spirituality of two peoples she has come to know, Charlotte covers the final distance between England and the New World.” (p. 143) What does this mean?

5. As they watch the burning ghost ship on the night of Charlotte’s wedding with Blake, Commodore Walker comments to the men jeering at Mi’kmaq legend, “Aye. But their Great Spirit is but God . . . it might become us on occasion to be humbled by his works, whatever they be and whatever He may be called. We’re a proud lot, we men. A day may come when we shall be glad of mysteries.” (p. 174) What does Walker mean by this? Do you agree?

6. Some of Charlotte’s marriages appear to have been made for quite pragmatic reasons, and with virtual strangers, yet she turns down the proposal made by Commodore Walker, with whom she has an affectionate relationship and who promises her a life of comfort. How would her life have been different had she accepted his proposal? Why do you think she made the choices in marriage that she did? Were they the right ones?

7. Charlotte and Wioche maintain a love affair that lasts many decades until her death. How do they manage this bond despite the damage done to his people by hers? Why do they never marry?

8. It is the men who “settled” New Brunswick who have dominated historical accounts of this period, stories involving war with the Acadians and the First Nations. Charlotte’s story reflects a different perspective. What is it about Charlotte’s character that allows her to move so skillfully between worlds and cultures? Why is this quality significant?

9. For those dwelling along the Miramichi, including Charlotte, nature is a fierce opponent in the struggle for survival. But Charlotte also carries with her the instinct to love the beauty of this untamed wilderness. Discuss this contradiction in Charlotte’s relationship to nature.

10. Charlotte has many opportunities to return home to England, why doesn’t she go?

11. Why do you think Charlotte leaves all her land to William Wishart?

12. Near the end of her life, Charlotte comes to believe herself complicit in the expulsion of the Acadians and Mi’kmaq from the Miramichi. “Her whole life here, it seems, has been lived in the knowledge that everything she wished to secure for her family helped to undo the security of her friends.” (p. 382) Discuss this perspective. Was she complicit?

13. BONUS: FUN WITH FOOD AND FICTION
Charlotte gives her children a glimpse into her once affluent past when she teaches Elizabeth to make Welsh Rabbit in the manner of her family’s cook. (p. 286) Look up a recipe for Welsh Rabbit (sometimes known as “Rarebit”) and consider making it for your book club meeting.