Blue Camellia Author:Frances Parkinson Keyes Frances Parkinson Keyes has again chosen Louisiana as the scene of a major novel. But this is not a festive chronicle of Carnival in New Orleans, or a saga of the River Road, as rich in sugar, oil and tobacco as in romance. It is the story of pioneering men and women and their children in a section of Louisiana far too often overlooked; above al... more »l, it is a story of the great love and unswerving loyalty which illuminated the lives of Mary and Brent Winslow, of their daughter Lavinia, and of the 2 cousins, Claude Villac and Felix Primeaux, who were rivals for Lavinia's heart and hand.
An unseasonable blizzard was raging in northern IL when Brent Winslow, convalescing from near-fatal pneumonia, and Mary, his hard-working and overburdened wife, chanced upon an advertisement in their local paper which set forth the opportunities offered to settlers in a balmy and fertile part of southwest Louisiana. Uprooting themselves from their home, they reached Crowley -- a "city" which so far existed largely in the active minds of strong-willed promoters -- in time for the historic auction of February, 1887, at which "house lots" and adjacent "farm lands" were sold for the proverbial song. A few "Cajun" settlers had already homesteaded on the otherwise uninhabited prairie and they clung to their mother tongue and their primitive ancestral customs. Among these were the Villacs who, despite the differences of background and religion, became the Winslows' nearest neighbors and dearest friends.
Cajuns and midwesterners alike prospered through their resourcefulness and industry. But it was Brent Winslow's successful experiemnts in rice breeding which, after years of patient and discouraging effort, changed not only the face of the countryside, but the course of agricultural history and Mary's love of flowers that served as the incentive for Brent to achieve the impossible, of which "Blue Camellia" became the symbol. And it was their beautiful daughter's strength of character which enabled her to triumph over the tragedy that threatened her personal happiness and to find eventual fulfillment, not only in her children but in her own creative and dedicated life.« less
First a disclaimer...I really like this author! That said Blue Camilla was such a good book. Keyes researches her area and topic, then fills in with very real people. This book is set in 1880's LA and is centered around the rice culture that developed there. The Cajun culture in that area also plays a large part in the story. The plot does not go quite the way you expect it too but is very satisfying, none the less. Excellent historical fiction!