Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Book Review: To Crown with Liberty by Karen Ullo (2024)

If you're looking for authentically Catholic historical fiction, To Crown with Liberty is the book you need to have on your bookshelf. This well-researched, beautifully written tale by Karen Ullo follows Alix de Morainville Carpentier, a former lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette, across two timelines. 

From the publisher: New Orleans, 1795. In the wake of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, Alix de Morainville Carpentier—a former lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette, now married to her gardener—seeks peace and security in the Spanish colony of Louisiana. But her journey into the man-eating swamp called Attakapas reopens the wounds of her old life in France. Alix is forced to reckon with the choices that saved her life at the cost of her honor—and perhaps her soul.

In revolutionary France, the Old World is dying; the quest for liberty, fraternity, and equality has become a nightmare where the price of dissent is blood. In the wilderness of Spanish Louisiana, a new civilization is beginning to emerge—but in this budding New World, the slave trade perpetuates the systems of oppression that sparked the revolution. Caught between old and new, scarred by trauma and grief, will Alix ever find a home where she can truly be free?

To Crown with Liberty is a historical novel based on riveting legends from George Washington Cable’s Strange True Stories of Louisiana (1888).

Not only does this book deal with historical realities, it confronts spiritual ones as well, raising questions of the impact of violence and darkness on the soul as well as the body. There are also lots of wonderful period details, and beautiful descriptions of Alix's emotions and innermost thoughts. I loved getting to know her and unraveling the details of her painful and mysterious past. 

Another wonderful thing about this book is the substantial back matter that helps separate fact from legend in the source material that inspired the book and identifies all the historical figures that appear in the book for easy reference. 

I truly can't recommend this novel highly enough. I'm very picky about historical fiction, but could not put this one down. Alix is a character who will stick with me for a long time. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

About the Author, Karen Ullo 

I’m a classically trained soprano, I have a MFA in Screenwriting, and I’m a suburban housewife mother of two. I’m a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I still swelter and sit in carpool lines. I write novels and screenplays, and I’m the editorial director of Chrism Press. Before that, I was the managing editor of Dappled Things Magazine. I’m an LSU Tiger and a USC Trojan. I’m a Cajun who married a Sicilian, so I cook pretty well, and write recipes for Catholicmom.com. I love college baseball. I went to boarding school. I can wiggle my nose like a rabbit. And if I ever tried to stop writing, the voices in my head would keep me awake at night. I’m also very glad you’re here.

Follow Karen online

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