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Gina la quarteronne, Sidonie de La Houssaye. Introduction and Notes by Christian Hommel.520 pages.

ISBN: 978-0-9793230-5-8. $21.50

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Gina la quarteronne, Sidonie de La Houssaye. Introduction and Notes by Christian Hommel.520 pages.

    Gina la quarteronne holds numerous surprises for readers who only know Octavia or Violetta. First of all, the characters and secondary storylines become more varied, complex and numerous, creating a dizzying and ever-deeper level of suspense. The author, at the height of her narrative abilities, dazzles her readers with the opulence and exoticism of these tales of a fabulous New Orleans where Creole beauties of every sort struggle to find their place in a society dominated by rich and powerful men whose public prejudice is often at odds with their private lives.
      The third novel of de La Houssaye’s Quarteronnes series finds a kinship with American novels such as The Quadroons, by Lydia Maria Child and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriot Beecher Stowe. However, de La Houssaye offers a more complex vision of the women whose lives she examines; these mythical protagonists are both victims and victors, highly sought outcasts who enjoyed and suffered in a wealth pre-Civil War New Orleans where French dominated social life and when life itself mirrored a sort of mythological theater.

Christian HOMMEL
University of Virginia