My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“My Name is Resolute” kept me up into the small hours of the morning reading, more than once! This was an enthralling read for me and came just when I was hungering for something long, historical, and intriguing!
Resolute, along with her family, is captured by pirates and removed from her Jamaican plantation home. Her sister Patience, protects her during the voyage and their brother August is also being held in a different area of the ship. Piracy in the early 1700’s was common and it just so happens that more than one ship will interfere, and transfer Resolute and her family to the New World.
There is so much happening here! Slavery and harsh conditions that seem unbelievable to us today, in the life of a young girl. Life in a convent orphanage as Resolute learns weaving. Escapes, romance, North American Indians, kindnesses, cruelties, hardship, courage, perseverance….and later on, wars. Both the French and Indian war and the Revolutionary War are going to deeply affect the lives of Resolute and her family.
Resolute is a good name for this character as she survives many hardships that would be hard for most of us to overcome.
There are difficult choices to be made within the complications of loyalty and family ties. Patience (Resolute’s sister) makes choice that for me is quite hard to understand. August seems to later regret his own choice to forsake family ties on his path to seeking life on the sea. Back and forth the reader is taken into the characters’ lives,with new relationships being formed, old enemies confronted, and friends made in unexpected places.
Resolute learns self-survival, becomes a mother, watches her husband and son impressed into military service to fight in the French and Indian war, survives diseases that are common to the times, and becomes an accomplished seamstress.
“I set about my work with renewed energy on Mondays, and by two weeks’ end had thirty yards of fine linen. I mixed dyes and tested the results on scraps. When I had just the right of rose – darker than the blush on a dogwood flower – I added blue to make lavender. I wrote the formula and mixed my brew. I held my breath and I plunged the length of fabric into the new barrel…
When an hour had passed, I rinsed the cloth and laid it upon a rope Cullah had strung from the wall to a tree. When it had dried I laid it upon my table and took the one thing yet unused and clean, a fifth new trencher Cullah had left me, and put it upon the cloth, then drew around it, making circles. On each circle I drew a leaf on the left with a posy by it, and then with a spoon for a straight line, I made dots where I would put flowers and leaves. When I sat to embroider I decided that this would be a very fine cloth….”
The Revolutionary war inevitably interferes in Resolute’s life, catching up her family members and portraying life as it was then, leading up to the years before with the hardships imposed on the colonists’ with tax laws, seizures of goods and property, and unfair importation laws. It brings to life within the characters’ setting the events of those hard days.
What is interesting to me is the way Resolute learns to adapt to her environment. Using the skills taught her in the convent she becomes talented and creative at weaving and embroidery and becomes a well-sought after dressmaker, even to the point of making friends with a British general’s wife.
“I drew in a breath, sat up, and said, “You shall be these things, Resolute Catherine Eugenia Talbot. You shall not bow your head to any. You shall live your life always with an eye to being of great age and having no regrets for things done or undone. You shall never give your conscience for a piece of silver or a place to lay your head….
You shall bind no one as slave. You shall give of your hands generously but your heart sparingly. You shall never lie again. You will be a woman Ma would love for a sister and friend. You are your own.”
My chest swelled with emotion.
A call came from downstairs. “Miss Talbot? Would you have tea?”
There is so much to say about this book! (And I know there is no way I can do it justice within the context of one review!)
Resolute, rather than being defeated by her situation and incredibly difficult circumstances (that many of us would not survive), creatively learns to ‘make do’ and finds herself in later years able to save another woman from her slavery, both because of her empathy and being able to identify with her plight.
Nancy Turner did a great job with “These is My Words” but this book in my estimation, is even better.
To me one of the best ways a novel can ‘entertain’ (for lack of a better word) the reader is to also teach them that life is not insurmountable, that characters can grow, change, and become stronger in the end than ever imagined. This story does it so well!
“When had I taken root? When had I become part of this cold, savage land and its people? When had I grown old? I was fifty-five, an age rare among women…I felt no more than twenty from the inside. I still yearned to wear a silken gown to a ball…
When had I gone from wearing embroidered silk to drab gray wool?
...My plain clothes now reflected not a smug choice, but our reduced circumstances…My linen wheel was wearing out and did not work well, but my dear woodsman had no tools to fix it. I looked at that wheel, so much a part of my life, and thought that my heart was in the wheel, and that it, too, was wearing out.”