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Madeleine's Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France's Indian Ocean Colonies

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This is a multi-generational saga of an enslaved family in India and two islands, Réunion and Mauritius, in the eastern empires of France and Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A tale of legal intrigue, it reveals the lives and secret relationships between slaves and free people that have remained obscure for two centuries. A meticulous work of archival This is a multi-generational saga of an enslaved family in India and two islands, Réunion and Mauritius, in the eastern empires of France and Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A tale of legal intrigue, it reveals the lives and secret relationships between slaves and free people that have remained obscure for two centuries. A meticulous work of archival detection, Madeleine's Children investigates the cunning, clandestine, and brutal strategies that masters devised to keep slaves under their control-and paints a vivid picture of the unique and evolving meanings of slavery and freedom in the Indian Ocean world.


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This is a multi-generational saga of an enslaved family in India and two islands, Réunion and Mauritius, in the eastern empires of France and Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A tale of legal intrigue, it reveals the lives and secret relationships between slaves and free people that have remained obscure for two centuries. A meticulous work of archival This is a multi-generational saga of an enslaved family in India and two islands, Réunion and Mauritius, in the eastern empires of France and Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A tale of legal intrigue, it reveals the lives and secret relationships between slaves and free people that have remained obscure for two centuries. A meticulous work of archival detection, Madeleine's Children investigates the cunning, clandestine, and brutal strategies that masters devised to keep slaves under their control-and paints a vivid picture of the unique and evolving meanings of slavery and freedom in the Indian Ocean world.

40 review for Madeleine's Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France's Indian Ocean Colonies

  1. 5 out of 5

    MG

    I felt familiar enough with US slave history and current international human trafficking to believe I was reasonably well informed about slavery before reading Madeleine’s Children by Sue Peabody. But I had no idea how much I didn’t know about the complexity of the institution until I read this book. The subtitle is Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France’s Indian Ocean Colonies and indeed, all those elements are vital to this story. Peabody spent a decade researching one enslaved man and hi I felt familiar enough with US slave history and current international human trafficking to believe I was reasonably well informed about slavery before reading Madeleine’s Children by Sue Peabody. But I had no idea how much I didn’t know about the complexity of the institution until I read this book. The subtitle is Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France’s Indian Ocean Colonies and indeed, all those elements are vital to this story. Peabody spent a decade researching one enslaved man and his very long battle to free himself using the legal system. Furcy Madeleine chose his mother’s first name for his last, presumably to honor her. He is well known and greatly admired in the islands where he lived (Reunion and Mauritius) for winning his legal freedom. In the process of her research, Peabody uncovered information about his mother Madeleine, sister Constance, and others. Much of the book provides a macro view of the forces that impacted each family member. Peabody was able to discover many surprising details from her research based on her trips across the globe to find and study original source documents. There are nearly 900 citations that comprise the final third of the book for those who want to dig deeper. It is a remarkable achievement of scholarly research about a population who suffered the horrors of slavery while seldom having their stories told. Peabody has done more than anyone else to tell as much of the history as anyone possibly could of this one remarkable family. As stated in the book, it is “the first full-length biographical history to explore what it meant to be a slave and to become free in France’s Indian Ocean colonies.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Quinn

    I received this exhaustively researched book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. As with other historical biographers the author feels that every detail needs to be included in the book to add significance. In this instance the topic is an Indian slave (from the country of India) and what happens to her children and their freedom under the French government. I don't feel the details about drought, famine, census numbers and cyclones play into the story. I was 80 pages into this book I received this exhaustively researched book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. As with other historical biographers the author feels that every detail needs to be included in the book to add significance. In this instance the topic is an Indian slave (from the country of India) and what happens to her children and their freedom under the French government. I don't feel the details about drought, famine, census numbers and cyclones play into the story. I was 80 pages into this book when I decided not to finish it. Up to this point the injustice of a son of the slave that was kept enslaved is hinted at but that is as far as it goes. However you do you read a lot about the ruling families and their lineage, and how they maneuvered to keep their land and slaves. DNF

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Tornello

    Madeleine is a slave who is taken from India to the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. This story follows her life and that of her children, in particular her son, Furcy. In adulthood, Furcy fights for his freedom in a long, drawn-out legal battle. I learned a lot about the islands of Reunion and Mauritius in this book. The author has done an excellent job with her research and has written quite a fascinating story. I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Yay!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kjirsten

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ángel García

  6. 5 out of 5

    Forest

  7. 5 out of 5

    Scott Browne

  8. 4 out of 5

    Derrick Wall

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Shumway

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erika

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brandy Backen

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thierry

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Cisneros

  14. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

  16. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fleet Sparrow

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wagner

  19. 4 out of 5

    Terry Pearson

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  23. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Kennedy

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ann Ellis

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erika Messer

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol McFarlane

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Ann

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bejaka Phoenix

  31. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  32. 5 out of 5

    J Collins

  33. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Muscat

  34. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Di Emedio

  35. 4 out of 5

    Fred

  36. 5 out of 5

    Dayna

  37. 4 out of 5

    Nikky44

  38. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Taylor-Cruz

  39. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  40. 4 out of 5

    Diane

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