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Describe your latest book. The Enchanted is a story narrated by a man on death row. The novel was inspired by my work as a death penalty... Continue »
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One

February 11, 1805

On the banks of the Missouri, 1,200 miles

upriver from St. Louis

All afternoon her cries could be heard throughout the small

wooden enclosure they called Fort Mandan, winter quarters for

the expedition across the river from one of the tribe's villages. Two

rows of huts faced each other at an oblique angle within the stockade,

and from one of these the guttural shrieks emerged with a grim regularity.

In and around the other huts the men kept to their business—

skinning game, cutting wood, cleaning guns—but each flinched

inwardly when the next cry reached his ears.

"It's her first," René Jesseaume said as he ground an ax blade on a

whetstone inside his hut. "She can't be more than fifteen; it's no wonder

she has been at it for so long."

"All you can do is wait," said the young soldier across from him,

shaking his head. He continued to dress the elk meat they had hunted

two days before.

"Maybe," Jesseaume said. He put down the ax, oiled the stone, and

let himself out into the biting cold.

He crossed the central space enclosed by the palisade. On the river

side the American flag snapped fiercely on its pole above the roughhewn

gatehouse, its edges already frayed. Hunched against the bitter

cold wind, he approached the door to the captains' quarters opposite

his hut. As he prepared to knock, the door opened and Charbonneau,

the squaw's husband, emerged in a daze. His eyes were rheumy, his

look distracted; he passed Jesseaume without appearing to see him.

Jesseaume knocked lightly on the half-open door and let himself in to

the close confines of the room.

Captain Lewis looked up from where he sat by a low pallet covered

with a buffalo robe. His features were worn. The young woman lay

beneath a woven blanket, her face turned away from the candle at

Lewis's side. Lewis began to say something but the woman cried out

suddenly, a long howl that paralyzed both men before it tapered off in

a whimper. Jesseaume approached and knelt by Lewis's side.

"Captain, my wife' s tribe has a potion in such cases where the labor

is long and difficult." Lewis nodded for him to continue. "They crush

the tail of a rattler, mix it with water, and have the woman drink it. I

have never seen it fail."

At length Lewis said, "I have given her as much tincture of laudanum

as I dare. I don't suppose the Mandan remedy you propose can

keep nature from taking its course."

He rose and walked to the other side of the hut, its interior dank

with the smell of sweat, blood, and wood smoke. On one wall a profusion

of pelts, tails, snakeskins, and bones hung on the rough timber.

He produced a knife from his pocket and snipped the rattles from the

tip of a snakeskin. Then, setting his cup on an adjacent plank, he ladled

out a quarter measure of water and returned to where Jesseaume

crouched beside the woman.

"Will this serve?"

"Very well, Captain. I thank you."

Jesseaume neatly snapped two of the rattles from the tail, dropped

them into the water, and broke them into tiny pieces, using his thumbnail

as a mortar to the tin cup's pestle. Kneeling low to the pallet, he

raised the young woman's sweat-drenched head in one hand and whispered

in her ear in Mandan, "New Mother, the power of the snake will

tell your body how to work. Drink this, and let the snake show your

baby the way out." He held the cup to her lips then, and she raised her

head to drink it, her matted hair stretched across her mouth. Gently,

he pulled the strands clear and she drank the cloudy liquid, slowly at

first, then in one long swallow. She lay down as if the effort of drinking

was a new source of exhaustion. A short while later her body contracted,

her knees rose to her chest, and she let out a shriek.

Lewis said, "I am going out for a short while. I fear our vigil may yet

be long."

"It may, Captain," Jesseaume whispered. "But in case it is not, could

you ask my wife to attend? She is at the gatehouse with Black Moccasin

and his squaws."

A quarter of an hour later the girl they called the Bird Woman,

Sacagawea, brought forth a fine and healthy boy. Charbonneau was

found dozing in one of the soldiers' huts. He returned, tearful and

smiling, and cradled the infant, wrapped in a blanket of fox fur, as he

announced proudly to all, "We will name him Jean- Baptiste, like my

grandfather."

His father called him Baptiste, but his mother called him Pompy, "Little

Chief," the Shoshone name she chose to honor the tribe into which

she had been born. Her knowledge of the Shoshone language was the

reason Charbonneau had been hired as an interpreter for the expedition,

after all. He didn't speak it, but her girlhood had been spent with

the Shoshone, the Snake tribe, at the foot of the Great Stony Mountains

to the west. They were the only tribe in the area with horses to

trade, and the captains and their men would need horses to cross the

mountains on their way west. She would be the go- between when they

left the river and started to climb.

As she lay with her newborn and suckled him in those first few

days, she thought of the new paths that lay ahead for her and her baby,

one of which might lead to the place where she had been born. Four

summers earlier she and three other Shoshone girls had been carried

off during the seasonal buffalo hunt by a Hidatsa raiding party. They

were after horses and young women, in that order of importance, and

after killing several hunters and their squaws, including her parents,

they galloped off with Sacagawea and the others tied to their mounts.

They rode eastward for many days, through land that was different

from anything Sacagawea had seen, broad and open, with swift rivers

cut into the ground and tall grasslands in every direction. When they

reached the Hidatsa and Mandan villages on the river they called the

Knife, she had not seen mountains for a long time. She knew that her

kinsmen could never rescue her from this powerful tribe so far away

from their lands. She wondered if she could live the life that had now

become hers.

In a dream her bird spirit came to her and pecked at her tongue,

sharp and insistent, and she woke with the taste of blood on her teeth.

Sacagawea must speak with a new tongue, the bird told her. She

clutched the small obsidian figure her mother had placed in her medicine

bundle, a tiny bird, all that was left to her from her first life. "I

must do this," she said, over and over, in those first months of captivity.

"I must do this."

Gradually she met other girls who had been stolen from their tribes

in that summer when all followed the herds: a pair of Assiniboin sisters,

several Crow and Gros Ventre, even a Nez Percé girl from across

the Stony Mountains who wept for weeks until the brave who had captured

her beat her into a watchful silence. Each of the Mandan and

Hidatsa villages was far bigger than any Shoshone encampment she

had known, with thirty or forty large earth-and- timber lodges grouped

around a central clearing. Both tribes kept extensive fields of corn,

squash, and beans. It was a dark time, a time of silences when Sacagawea

understood almost nothing of the new language she would have

to learn, but she noticed right away something that set these people

apart from the Shoshone: no one went hungry. As large as the villages

were, there was food for all.

She held Pompy close and looked in his eyes, gray-blue like his father's,

and thought, You are the only thing I can truly call my own, little

one. Soon we will leave this place and you will have neither tribe nor village.

You and I will be part of this band of wanderers, headed to the far

edge of the land, to the place the Shoshone call The Big Lake That

Smells Bad. The Pacific, the captains name it. So begins your first life, on

rivers and trails. Will it always be so?

Two months after she gave birth, Sacagawea set off up the river as part

of the Corps of Discovery together with Charbonneau and her infant,

strapped to her back on the cradleboard she had fashioned at Fort

Mandan. Its cedar slats gave forth an aroma that pleased her with its

sweetness. She felt like a mother.

There were better men than Charbonneau, she knew, but far more

who were worse. A year after they were taken, he had bought Sacagawea

and another Shoshone girl from the Hidatsa warrior who had

captured them. They became Charbonneau's squaws, maintaining a

lodge for him in the Mandan village and sharing in the women's work

of the tribe. He took his pleasure with them by turns, sometimes for

long hours, but never roughly like the warrior from whom she had

learned what it was to lose one's body. Over time she came to accept

his ways, but she was often glad that Otter Woman was there, too,

when it suited Charbonneau.

She was jealously protective of her right to accompany Charbonneau

on some of his trading trips along the river. He didn't often take

her, but when he did she felt more alive than at any other time, delighting

in the departure from her routine chores in the village and

keen to see what the world looked like elsewhere. She worked doubly

hard to be sure he knew her worth, gathering firewood, cleaning the

trade goods, brushing the pelts, cooking his food. The presence of a

woman, she knew, was by itself a message that men of all tribes understood:

no fighting was intended. She took pride in her role as the

companion of the white trader, a free agent who could pass from tribe

to tribe without causing alarm.

In this, she realized that Charbonneau possessed a quality that the

French voyageurs often showed but that was rare among the American

and British traders: he was persistent, and infinitely patient. When, in

the heat of negotiations over furs or beads, horses or guns, the chiefs

would use hard language and refuse to be moved, more often than not

Charbonneau knew what words to use to veer away from an ending, to

hear "maybe" when the chiefs had said "no." He was like water in a

stream, finding its way around a boulder, and then another and an-

other, mindful that suppleness was more useful than speed, keeping

the talk going until everyone had something he wanted. He was sometimes

criticized for it by other whites, usually the English. Even the

captains had called him "unreliable" or "unprincipled" at times because

he would not confront an adversary directly. But his ways were

more like Indian ways, and the proof of his effectiveness was that he

continued to be welcome where the path had been closed to other

whites by many tribes. He was three times Sacagawea's age when

Pompy was born, a man who had seen more than forty-five winters.

She knew that despite his faults he was far more likely to see many

more than some of his rash counterparts, who believed that confrontation

and strength were the best way of dealing with the tribes.

June 16, 1805

Below the Great Falls of the Missouri

"If we lose her, the baby dies, too."

"I know it," Lewis said grimly. "He is not even close to being

weaned, and he would not last a day on what we eat." He looked at

Clark and gave voice to the thought that passed between them. "So we

must do all we can to make sure she lives." What was foremost in their

minds remained unsaid: if Sacagawea died, the negotiations with the

Shoshone for horses would be impossible. The Shoshone had had almost

no contact with white men. No one else spoke a word of their

language, and without horses the party would not be able to cross the

mountains. The expedition would fail.

Lewis continued his examination. Sacagawea lay on a deer skin in

the tepee under a light blanket, her breathing labored and irregular,

her skin hot to the touch. One of her arms twitched convulsively. She

grimaced as a wave of pain passed through her belly, an unfocused

stare in her half-open eyes.

"She won't bear being bled again," Lewis murmured, "but if we can

cause her to perspire, I think the fever may yet subside. I propose to

continue the bark poultice you commenced. I should also like her to

take some water from the sulfur springs we passed on the opposite

bank. Drouillard can fetch some this afternoon." His face was drawn,

his mounting concern apparent. "Perhaps you could tell Charbonneau

to occupy himself with the child while I change the poultice."

"I can watch the boy," Clark answered quickly, moving to lift the

baby from where he lay in the crook of his mother's arm. The infant

started to fuss as Clark lifted him gently, and the captain held him

close to his chest, looking down into the clear eyes that were inquisitive

and somber.

"Come now, Pomp, come to Captain Clark and be a good boy. Captain

Lewis will help your mama feel better," he cooed, swaying lightly

as he stepped away from Sacagawea's prostrate body, his hair the color

of a fox pelt standing up from his forehead.

Sacagawea's menstrual flow seemed to be blocked, causing pain

throughout her pelvic region. While Clark talked to the infant in

soothing tones, Lewis set to work assembling his meager supplies on a

piece of elk hide spread open on the ground. He poured warm water

from the kettle into a shallow tin basin and tore several strips from a

length of clean linen. He then removed the blanket and cautiously

raised her knees, spreading her legs as he did so. Lifting away the

darkened mass that lay at the opening of her vulva, he wetted a strip of

cloth and carefully bathed the entire area with a steady hand. He fashioned

the new poultice as he kneeled at her side, placing three small

pieces of Peruvian bark on a clean strip of linen and rolling it into a

soft cylinder. Onto its surface he sprinkled twenty drops of laudanum,

the tincture of opium whose small bottle was counted among the most

precious medicines in the rudimentary apothecary he had assembled

for the expedition. Satisfied that her inner thighs had dried sufficiently

after his cleansing, he inserted the poultice and slowly lowered her

knees, covering her body once again with the blanket. When Drouillard

returned with a canteen of sulfur water, Lewis urged her to take

small sips until she had downed two cupfuls.

That evening when he felt for her pulse as she slept, at her wrist

and again at her neck, it beat strong and regular to his touch. Her face

was covered with tiny beads of perspiration and her skin was not as hot

as before. The tremors in her arm had stopped, and her face no longer

bore the mask of pain that had covered it for days. When he withdrew

his hand she opened her eyes and looked into his, and put her hand on

his fingers. Neither spoke the other's language but all was understood

in that long moment. I will live and Pompy will live, she told him with

her eyes, and it is your doing. Your spirit is strong.

August 17, 1805

At the head of the Jefferson River

Four months after they left the Mandan villages, the party of thirtyone

men, one woman, and a baby boy reached the land of the

Shoshone, among the first hills of the great mountain range that stood

between them and the western ocean. To cross those mountains—the

Great Stonies, the Rockies, the Bitterroots—they would need to trade

for this tribe's horses.

"You talk to your people in Shoshone, then tell me in Mandan,"

Charbonneau said to Sacagawea as they approached the Three Forks

area early in the morning with Captain Clark's group of men. They

hoped to rendezvous with Lewis, who had gone ahead to join the

Shoshone. "Then I'll tell Labiche in French and he can speak English

to the captains." She agreed. Even compared to the parleys among several

tribes, this was a complicated arrangement, but it was the only

one they had. She was in a dream, she felt, seeing on this voyage, as if

for the first time, lands that she recognized, places she had known as a

girl. Who would be left from that time? What would they make of her?

What if they could not find her tribe?

They had not walked more than a mile when they saw several Indians

on horseback coming in their direction. Sacagawea and Charbonneau

walked slightly ahead of the others, and suddenly Sacagawea

threw up her arms and let out a wail of joy, circling Charbonneau with

little dancing steps as she looked from the mounted Indians back to

Clark and the rest of the party. These are my people! she signed again

and again to Clark, and he understood at once. She ran to the approaching

group and addressed one of the braves in Shoshone, and he

confirmed that he was a member of her childhood clan. Accompanying

them was one of Lewis's men, who explained that the others were less

than a mile distant. The Indians sang all the way to the nearby camp,

joined at times by Sacagawea whose red- painted cheeks glistened with

tears.

That afternoon Lewis had the men stretch one of the large sails

overhead as a shield from the sun, and robes were spread out beneath

it so that he, Clark, and the principal Shoshone chief, Cameahwait,

could confer and negotiate for horses. By now they had parleyed with

the chiefs of several tribes and they prepared the setting for these talks

with care. It was important that a sense of hierarchy prevail, that they

be seen as chiefs from the great nation whose distant father had set

them on their path. The three men smoked a pipe and made the formal

statements of respect and good will necessary before any bargaining

could begin. The chain of languages took time—Shoshone to

Mandan to French to English, and back again—but all was going well,

both captains agreed, in the first part of this negotiation that had to be

successful.

Suddenly Sacagawea rose up from her place, ran to where Cameahwait

was seated between Clark and Lewis, and threw her blanket over

his shoulders, wailing his name repeatedly as she embraced him. Although

his formal mien and the chief ' s ceremonial headdress of otter

fur and eagle feathers had masked his features, she had finally recognized

him. It was like the way one of the small mirrors the captains offered

as gifts—things like solid water—dazzled the eye with sunlight,

and in the next instant showed you your face. He was her brother.

The captains offered coats, leggings, ax heads, knives, tobacco, and

the usual mix of minor trade goods that often sealed the bargain:

beads, flints, handkerchiefs, and the like. Cameahwait was presented

with a medal bearing the likeness of President Jefferson who, he was

told, was now the Great Father to him and his people. On its reverse,

Clark pointed out as he placed it around the chief 's neck, the clasped

hands of an Indian and a white man stood out in relief beneath a

crossed pipe and tomahawk. Around these symbols were inscribed the

words "Peace and Friendship." In return the Shoshone provided

twenty-nine horses, all they would need.

During the several days of preparation for the trek across the mountains,

Sacagawea discovered that she was a curiosity to her tribe, a go-

between whom they asked to explain the white man to them. Why did

they have fur on their faces? Was the one they called York from the

spirit world, with his curling hair and skin the color of a beaver? They

wondered if Lewis's huge black dog was a kind of bear cub, they wondered

how the rifles and the air gun threw their power to any far place.

And they asked about Pompy: why did he have his mother's hair and

skin, but eyes the color of the evening sky?

When she was alone in the tepee with her baby, she thought about

all their questions and her attempts to explain. They have not seen what

I have seen. How can I tell them? The joy of her return to the people

she had grown up with was tempered by a new awareness. These are

my people, but this is not my home anymore. Charbonneau was French,

she told herself, but he lived with the tribes and on the river more than

he did with his people. So did René Jesseaume and Georges Drouillard.

They were whites who didn't live like other whites. It was a path

they had chosen or, rather, two paths that made them something else.

I have two paths also, she thought. I am Shoshone and not- Shoshone,

Mandan and not- Mandan. And I travel with a voyageur. This is my life.

The day before the departure, when all was ready, Clark took her

and Charbonneau aside in the camp. He looked into her eyes and said,

"Cameahwait wants you to spend the winter with your people while

we cross the mountains to the Pacific. It would be safer for you and

your baby."

She waited for Charbonneau to interpret Clark's statement into

Mandan, but she had understood its sense. Without hesitating she

said in English, "We go." She held Pompy in her arms and said the

words in Mandan that came without thinking. "We will go across the

mountains and back. Our path is with you."

January 8, 1806

Fort Clatsop

In November the Corps of Discovery descended the Columbia River

and reached the Pacific Ocean, completing the outward-bound leg of

Jefferson's enterprise. They spent some weeks along the river's estuary,

battered in their makeshift camps by perpetual winter storms. In early

December they chose a sheltered cove and built a winter camp, Fort

Clatsop, where they would wait for spring before beginning the return

journey. Most of the men visited the coastal beaches on hunting parties

or to collect salt, but by January Sacagawea had not yet been to

the ocean's edge. One evening in that first week of the new year, Captain

Clark entered the hut where Charbonneau, Sacagawea, and

Pompy were quartered.

"A group of Tillamook report a whale has washed up onto the beach

south of our salt camp," he told Charbonneau. "Tomorrow I want you

to go with me and ten other men to see what meat and oil we might

take from the carcass." Understanding part of what was said, Sacagawea

pressed Charbonneau for details. Clark turned to leave but she

put her hand on his elbow and spoke rapidly, her eyes wide with anger

and impatience.

"She says she has traveled very far to see the Great Waters; she has

walked as swiftly as the others and carried her baby without complaint,"

Charbonneau told Clark, surprised at the forcefulness of her

words. "Now there is a huge fish lying on the very edge of the ocean. It

is unlike you, Captain, to keep her from seeing either. She would take

it hard."

Clark met Sacagawea's imploring gaze, which was full of indignant

dismay. "Very well," he said. "Tell her to be ready to go with us at

dawn."

When they reached the low sand flat where the whale had been

beached, they found not a carcass but a skeleton. The whale had been

stripped bare by the Tillamook, the structure of its bones intact on the

muddy inlet, but all the blubber, skin, and oil already taken away.

Clark overcame his initial disappointment and set to measuring the

animal's remains. "One hundred and five feet in length," he announced

with awe. He wrote all the numbers in his book, as he always

did. "It is so that the animals and plants we see can tell their story to

others," he explained to Sacagawea through Charbonneau. Then he

set out on foot to the nearby village to see if he could buy some blubber

or oil.

Sacagawea stayed on the wide beach with Pompy and looked out

upon the water, constantly rolling toward her in blue and black waves

streaked with white, like an endless storm on the river. Some called it

The Big Lake That Smells Bad, others The Great Waters or the River

Without Banks, but to Sacagawea it was more like the sky: you could

stand at its edge and look at it, but you could never cross it. Before the

others returned she held Pompy in her arms and stood upright between

the whale's ribs, as one might stand in a sizeable room. She

talked to her child as she nuzzled and kissed him, turning this way and

that so his wide eyes could see what surprising creatures sometimes

emerged from the belly of the earth.

June 30, 1806

They were over the mountains. The Bitterroots had still been covered

with snow, but on the return they had Nez Percé guides and never lost

their way. Their horses had grass on every day but one of the six it took

to get across. Now they were camped at the place the captains called

Traveler's Rest, a valley on the eastern slope that afforded the party

plentiful game in a series of grass- covered meadows along the mountain

stream.

We will live, Sacagawea allowed herself to think. I have not been the

cause of my baby's death. After this voyage we will return to the Mandan

and make our lives on the river with Charbonneau. She knew that perils

still lay ahead—dangerous rapids, unseasonable storms, hostile Indian

raiding parties—but the mountains had threatened them more than

anything else, and the fear had been lifted from their shoulders like a

heavy burden that had fallen away. Even the captains allowed themselves

to smile and walked with a light step.

The evening of their second day there, the warmth of the sun stayed

in the valley until dusk, and the men made a fire by the stream. They

sat along the banks and lay on the grass, talking and arguing in an easygoing

way. Captain Clark stood with Pompy at the water's edge, a shallow

stretch of back current with a gravel bottom. He was a robust

baby, almost seventeen months old, despite all the ordeals of the expedition.

He stood facing the small river, holding each of Clark's massive

thumbs for support, and ventured into the water, where he stamped

his feet in delight.

Cruzatte had begun to play his fiddle, one of the old Breton tunes

the men favored, and Pomp stamped half- rhythmically to the music.

He gave forth little squeals, surprised and pleased at the explosions of

wetness that his feet made upon the captain's leggings. It turned into a

dance as Clark lifted his feet and turned the boy back and forth. Seaman,

Clark's good- natured Newfoundland, barked and wagged his

tail, striding into the water to join in the fun. Everyone laughed, Clark

most heartily of all, and Sacagawea saw that more than one man had to

turn away to hide moist eyes. The winter had been wet, cold, and

cheerless, and they were still far away from home, but for the first time

they could taste the end of the voyage. This vision of the child's joy in

the surrounding warmth of others made each man conjure a memory

of his family. They needed to be among their own: sweethearts and

siblings, parents and elders. Each one missed his home most sharply

that night.

August 14, 1806

They reached the Mandan villages in the late afternoon, coming down

the river like boatloads of visitors appearing from the spirit world. It

seemed impossible to the Indians that all those who had set off sixteen

months before in search of a route to the Great Waters had reached

their goal and returned safely, including the squaw and her newborn.

It gave her and her voyageur husband a new status in the eyes of the

Mandan, and everyone agreed that the boy was destined to lead. "In

his first year he has been where none of us has been," the Mandan

chief Black Cat announced when the captains smoked a pipe to mark

the reunion. "His spirit has breathed in the trail to the west, and we

will learn from it."

The news from the tribes was not good. While they had been gone,

the Arikara had attacked white traders as well as Mandan and Hidatsa

canoes below the villages, making any travel south along the river extremely

hazardous. The Sioux, too, were acting warlike, and several

bands had raided the Mandan and Hidatsa lodges. Anxious to return

to St. Louis and to get news of the expedition's successful conclusion

to President Jefferson, the captains assured the Mandan of their support.

They convinced the Mandan chief Sheheke to accompany them

downriver and then continue to Washington to visit the Great Father,

the better to make known his people's grievances against the Arikara

and the Sioux.

Two days later the captains said their goodbyes and prepared to

leave. Charbonneau and Sacagawea had decided to remain with

Pompy in the Mandan villages, promising to journey to St. Louis when

river travel was safer. Lewis was ailing and gave a feeble handshake

from the makeshift litter on which he lay. As the last of the canoes was

being loaded, Clark drew the couple and their son to one side at the

river's edge.

"Do not forget, Toussaint Charbonneau, my pledge to you: bring

your darling boy to me in St. Louis and I will raise him as my own and

see to his proper education." He shook Charbonneau's hand and

turned to Sacagawea, who held Pompy close. During their sixteen

months together on the trail, Clark had formed a strong attachment to

the baby. "Let him learn the white man's ways," he said to her, pleading

with his eyes. His hand reached out and stroked the boy's hair

lightly, then he strode away quickly and the boats shoved off.

Review:

"Carhart follows The Piano Shop on the Left Bank with an uneven historical about the divide between the rugged frontiers of the New World and the court intrigues of Europe. Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Sacagawea, acts as a guide for natural scientist Paul Wilhelm of Wrttemberg. Impressed by Baptiste's knowledge, Paul invites him to travel to Europe and assist him in cataloguing his North American treasures, beginning a five-year adventure that will see Baptiste 'change in ways he could not imagine.' In Europe, Baptiste visits noble homes and palaces, attends lavish balls and beds charming women. He ambles through a Parisian market, taking in 'its pungent smells and the high, piercing cries from the sellers' and later joins the French gentry on a civilized hunt. It's all marvelously captured, and though Carhart can be less than subtle with some of the race politics, the biggest problem with this finely crafted milieu is that Baptiste's survey of Europe feels more like a prelude than a plot. The imagery is stirring, but the story isn't. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

From the acclaimed bestselling author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, a historical novel about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, and his intriguing sojourn as a young man in 1820s Paris.

Born in 1805 on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was the son of the expedition's translators, Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau. Across the Endless River compellingly portrays this mixed-blood child's mysterious boyhood along the Missouri among the Mandan tribe and his youth as William Clark's ward in St. Louis. The novel becomes a haunting exploration of identity and passion as eighteen-year-old Baptiste is invited to cross the Atlantic in 1823 with young Duke Paul of Württemberg.

During their travels throughout Europe, Paul introduces Baptiste to a world he never imagined. Gradually, Baptiste senses the limitations of life as an outsider. His passionate affair with Paul's older cousin helps him understand the richness of his heritage and the need to fashion his own future. But it is Maura, the beautiful and independent daughter of a French-Irish wine merchant Baptiste meets in Paris, who most influences his ultimate decision to return to the frontier.

Rich in the details of life in both frontier America and the European court, Across the Endless River is a captivating novel about a man at the intersection of cultures, languages, and customs.

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Vicki Newell, October 25, 2009 (view all comments by Vicki Newell)
This is the story of Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacajawea. Baptiste was born 1805 during the time his parents were with the Lewis & Clarke expedition. When he is 18 yrs. old he goes to Europe and helps Duke Paul catalogue the objects he acquired on his travels. He meets and falls in love with two woman, Paul's cousin Theresa, and Maura Hennesy. The story is written so that you feel as if you are there. It's got both American and European history and I loved learning from this book. My favorite character was Baptiste. I was intrigued by him and his place in history. There is so much more to this book, but I feel that the more I reveal, the more I will take away from your experience if you decide to read it yourself. It is an adventure you won't soon forget.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385529778
Author:
Carhart, Thad
Publisher:
Doubleday
Author:
Carhart, Thaddeus
Subject:
General
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Biographical fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090901
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.48x6.66x1.19 in. 1.34 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Across the Endless River Used Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - English 9780385529778 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Carhart follows The Piano Shop on the Left Bank with an uneven historical about the divide between the rugged frontiers of the New World and the court intrigues of Europe. Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Sacagawea, acts as a guide for natural scientist Paul Wilhelm of Wrttemberg. Impressed by Baptiste's knowledge, Paul invites him to travel to Europe and assist him in cataloguing his North American treasures, beginning a five-year adventure that will see Baptiste 'change in ways he could not imagine.' In Europe, Baptiste visits noble homes and palaces, attends lavish balls and beds charming women. He ambles through a Parisian market, taking in 'its pungent smells and the high, piercing cries from the sellers' and later joins the French gentry on a civilized hunt. It's all marvelously captured, and though Carhart can be less than subtle with some of the race politics, the biggest problem with this finely crafted milieu is that Baptiste's survey of Europe feels more like a prelude than a plot. The imagery is stirring, but the story isn't. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , From the acclaimed bestselling author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, a historical novel about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, and his intriguing sojourn as a young man in 1820s Paris.

Born in 1805 on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was the son of the expedition's translators, Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau. Across the Endless River compellingly portrays this mixed-blood child's mysterious boyhood along the Missouri among the Mandan tribe and his youth as William Clark's ward in St. Louis. The novel becomes a haunting exploration of identity and passion as eighteen-year-old Baptiste is invited to cross the Atlantic in 1823 with young Duke Paul of Württemberg.

During their travels throughout Europe, Paul introduces Baptiste to a world he never imagined. Gradually, Baptiste senses the limitations of life as an outsider. His passionate affair with Paul's older cousin helps him understand the richness of his heritage and the need to fashion his own future. But it is Maura, the beautiful and independent daughter of a French-Irish wine merchant Baptiste meets in Paris, who most influences his ultimate decision to return to the frontier.

Rich in the details of life in both frontier America and the European court, Across the Endless River is a captivating novel about a man at the intersection of cultures, languages, and customs.

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