Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: August 3, 2021
"Come spend a few hours in Bernadette, Louisiana. You might find you don't want to leave! I know I didn't."--Lynette Eason, bestselling, award-winning author of the Danger Never Sleeps series
When Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country in 1949, she knows her life will change--but she could never imagine just how dramatically.
Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their unique culture, most of the residents come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher, and she's soon teaching just about everyone, despite opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives. Yet it's the lessons Ellie herself will learn--from new friends, a captivating Cajun fisherman, and even a legendary white alligator haunting the bayou--that will make all the difference.
Take a step away from the familiar and enter the shadowy waters of bayou country for a story of risk, resilience, and romance.
Reviewer: Connie Porter Saunders
Ellie Fields leaves her Alabama home to accept a teaching job in Bernadette, Louisiana in the Fall of 1949, and her goal is to change the lives of children through her teaching. She is such a special young woman and her positive influence is soon felt by many of the people in Bernadette. Two of the men forge a special friendship with Ellie, but will one of these friendships turn into something more?
I have been transported once again to another time and place, and I've learned so much from reading Under the Bayou Moon. I enjoyed learning about the customs and folklore that are unique to Cajun culture, and there is an especially intriguing part that features a white alligator known as the White Spirit.
Prejudice and political corruption are explored and romance is present, but this book's appeal for me is in the portrayal of the lasting friendship between Ellie, Raphe, and Heywood. Under the Bayou Moon is a testament to the power of love and friendship, and I found myself totally invested in this faith-filled story.
I highly recommend this book to all who enjoy historical fiction.
I received this book courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Cheryl Wood
WOW! I have read the author’s “The Key to Everything,” but, Under the Bayou Moon did not disappoint and it is one of my favorite books. The author is a master storyteller and has a gift of bringing sights, tastes and smells, to life. Her story left me hungry for shrimp po’boys and beignets from Café Du Monde.
A wonderful story of love, family, hardship, belonging and finding oneself tossed in with Cajun culture, mysteries of a white alligator that will leave the reader with lots to think about.
Community, faith, and family is the focus of Bernadette, Louisiana. When tragedy hits the community, everyone comes together to help each other. God’s grace is evident through the people. I loved the story and will be reading the book again.
This book was provided courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Adriann Harris
Valerie Fraser Luesse writes stories you cannot put down and you never want to end. This time she took us to the Cajun country of Louisiana in Under the Bayou Moon. This author is in a class all by herself and has a knack for storytelling like no other. The way she draws the reader into every aspect is untouchable and I know I am not alone when I say her stories stick with you long after the ending. I actually have to take a break afterwards or the next book I read will be sure to disappoint.
Under the Bayou Moon, is full of beautiful scenery, drama, romance, mouth watering food, mystery and suspense. In other words it has something for everyone. I was immediately drawn into this story by Valerie’s enchanting, delightful, easy flowing southern style prose as I jumped aboard the pirogue joining her characters as they row about the Bayou. Emotionally I had moments of awe, nail biting dread, tears, out right laughter and everything in between which makes Valerie’s stories so delightfully wonderful to read. Every element of Under the Bayou Moon was so well portrayed by Valerie making it truly an unforgettable experience.
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell via NetGalley through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
Reviewer: June McCrary Jacobs
A lyrical, moving story of the South . . .
I have officially crowned Valerie Fraser Luesse as my favorite writer of Southern fiction, after reading this beautiful story set in the Louisiana bayou in post World War II America.
I previously read and enjoyed the author's Almost Home and The Key to Everything, but this new book surpasses both of those stories in my mind due to several factors.
This story is filled with the history of the French Canadians-Acadians-Cajuns who inhabit a seemingly uninhabitable region of Louisiana—the bayou. As a history buff, I learned so much about this diverse group of people. Through her research, author painted an authentic picture of the region, the scenery, and the climate of the area.
The values of faith, family, and community hold a prominent place in the small town of Bernadette, Louisiana, where most of the story is set. I was deeply touched by the devotion these people held for their spouses, children, neighbors, and community members. Many of the events in the story moved me to tears, and this story stayed with me for a long time after I read it—something that only happens with a handful of the dozens of books I read each year.
When there is a tragedy or a challenge in Bernadette, they meet it head on by working together to resolve it. Many instances of courage and even heroism were woven into this story. The diverse community is inclusive and gives readers a fine example of God's spirit working in the hearts of people of varying religions.
Finally, the love story between the two main characters was nothing short of enchanting. School teacher, Ellie Fields, who is a newcomer to Bernadette, shows her lovely spirit in the way she treats each of the children she works with no matter their ethnicity or economic status. She is respectful, positive, and dedicated to their education. Apparently that is a change from the teachers who have previously worked in the town. I don't want to reveal too much about the romance in this book because readers should experience the author's writing firsthand.
A side note from this reviewer—several scenes were set in New Orleans. As a child, I spent many summers visiting my grandparents and other extended family members in that area. The author's excellent descriptive writing brought back so many memories of the taste and smell of warm beignets and chickory coffee, the color and power of the Mississippi River, and the sights and sounds of the busy French Quarter.
I received a paperback copy of this book from Revell through Interviews & Reviews. All of my thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely my own.
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
I have enjoyed this author’s books before. She writes a beautiful story with characters that burrow right into your heart. I read it with the southern cadence ringing in my ears. She makes you care about the people and the country of the Bayou.
I love the warmth and compassion that schoolteacher Ellie has for the children and adults of Bernadette, Louisiana. And they, in turn, take her in as one of their own. Raphe is steady and strong as he shares his life with his orphaned nephew Remy. Heywood is shown as a steadfast and impartial friend with a ready wit. I liked the historical facts about the Cajun people and the terrific legend of the white alligator.
Ms. Luesse laces her story with beautiful settings of the Bayou: “She opened her eyes, waiting for the first streak of light in the night sky. It came soon enough-first a faint silvery slit in the blackness that slowly lengthened before opening itself to sunrise colors of pale pink and coral.”
She includes customs of the times, political intrigue, dangerous situations and a sweet romance. It has all the feels, sometimes bringing me to tears.. This author is quite a storyteller. You can tell that God and his ways are important to the main characters and right and wrong are clearly shown.
A superb story that has you wanting more.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Beverly Laude
Juliet "Ellie" Fields is a young schoolteacher who is searching for more than she has with her life in Alabama. After a broken engagement from a man determined to control her life, she decides to take a job in a small Cajun community in Louisiana. On her trip to Bernadette, she stops off in New Orleans to enjoy the sights and meets a young man from Illinois named Heywood Thornberry. (Even though he is not from the South, I have never heard a more Southern name in my life!).
Upon arriving in Bernadette, Ellie is thrown into a completely different way of life. She finds herself living in a cabin along Bayou Teche without electricity or running water, commuting to her job in a pirogue instead of a car. She soon learns that the Cajun children are terrified to attend school because of the school board's insistence that they be punished for speaking French while in school.
Raphael "Rafe" Broussard is a young Cajun, born and raised on the Bayou and trying to raise his young nephew, Remy. When Rafe and Ellie meet, they instantly feel a connection and romance starts to bloom. Ellie learns about the history of the Cajuns, their way of life, the culture and the folklore of the area. She is determined to make the children love school and enjoy learning instead of being terrified.
This book won my heart right away and was very reminiscent of my favorite book, "To Kill A Mockingbird" because of its setting in a simpler time in the South. But, there are plenty of poignant moments as Ellie deals with prejudice, hatred, and loss in this small community.
There are also several villainous characters that made my skin crawl and enough tension to keep things moving at a quick pace.
The author has done a wonderful job with character development and she has really captured the feel of the Bayou in this book. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of the customs, folklore and food of the area that she incorporated into the book. I know that this will be a book that I will reread often and will remain one of my all time favorites.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, through Interviews & Reviews in exchange for an honest opinion. The views expressed by this reviewer are entirely my own.
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