Gabrielle
by Cherie Claire, historical (2001)
Zebra Ballad, $5.50, ISBN 0-8217-6802-6


Help! I can't make head or tail out of Gabrielle. I know it is my fault for jumping onto this series so late (this one is the last book in the series), but I just don't know what is going on. When the story starts, hero Captain Jean Bouclaire and heroine Gabrielle Gallant are already apart after what seems like a grand courtship because he is a seafarer and we all know these men can't settle down. Or something like that.

In the opening chapter some 13-year old girl called Delphine is begging Jean to take her along with him on his sailing. I soon realize that (a) Jean loves Gabrielle, and (b) Jean has slept with Delphine's mother and Momma declares that it is the worst mistake of her life. It takes me until Chapter Five (I'm not as sharp as I used to be) to realize that yes, Delphine is his... It's All My Children all over again, I thought then.

Then Jean is sailing back to Gabby, but they just can't be together, you know, because Jean is a sailor and he stays in one place for no woman. Oh yes, another guy who has read way too much Hemingway macho crapioli. The entire story seems to revolve around this conflict: Jean is so in love with the idea that his love for Gabrielle is doomed because - yep, he's a sailor and he stays in one place for no woman - that he just refuses to take Gab or his daughter with him even to save them from unhappy lives. This single conflict makes Jean as dumb as mud.

There are many secondary characters here, I guess they are from previous The Acadian novels, and their stories and conversations all revolve heavily around events and people from previous books (I think). Nothing is made clear, and I am left in the dark most of the time trying to piece things together.

Reading Gabrielle is like trying to play Where's Waldo? blindfolded. At the end of the day I am too confused by the lack of explanations of so many things in the story that I just want to go to bed and forget about the whole thing.

Rating: 50


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