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Under the Bayou Moon

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Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She's s Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She's soon teaching just about everyone--and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives. Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong. A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.


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Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She's s Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She's soon teaching just about everyone--and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives. Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong. A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.

30 review for Under the Bayou Moon

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susie Finkbeiner

    There's just something about a novel by Valerie Fraser Luesse that feels like coming home. Reading Under the Bayou Moon felt like an invitation to sit with Luesse in her Story Shack so she could spin a yarn that made me fall in love with a place I've never been and to care deeply for characters I've never met. This is the magic of good fiction, isn't it? And Valerie performs her enchantments with a lyric, Southern style that took my breath away. This is a book to be savored. There's just something about a novel by Valerie Fraser Luesse that feels like coming home. Reading Under the Bayou Moon felt like an invitation to sit with Luesse in her Story Shack so she could spin a yarn that made me fall in love with a place I've never been and to care deeply for characters I've never met. This is the magic of good fiction, isn't it? And Valerie performs her enchantments with a lyric, Southern style that took my breath away. This is a book to be savored.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    In a starred review, Publisher's Weekly called this story lyrical & they were right! But even as a voracious reader & literature teacher, I couldn't quite pinpoint what made the story so magical. With prose that was neither overwritten nor spare, Valerie Fraser Luesse had me seeing, feeling & hearing the bayou, tasting the gumbo, huddling next to the old men in their council, laughing with Haywood & Gabby, puzzling over how to reach the children, sighing with satisfaction as Raphe courted Ellie. In a starred review, Publisher's Weekly called this story lyrical & they were right! But even as a voracious reader & literature teacher, I couldn't quite pinpoint what made the story so magical. With prose that was neither overwritten nor spare, Valerie Fraser Luesse had me seeing, feeling & hearing the bayou, tasting the gumbo, huddling next to the old men in their council, laughing with Haywood & Gabby, puzzling over how to reach the children, sighing with satisfaction as Raphe courted Ellie. And narrator Sandy Rustin interpreted the characters perfectly. For me, this story brought to mind some old favorites, Catherine Marshall's Christy, the Debbie Reynolds's Tammy movies I watched as a girl & the quirky Where the Heart Is film. All these stories feature a lovely, pure-hearted heroine (sometimes mistakenly considered a clueless bumpkin), who approaches her troubles with optimism and creativity instead of angst and finds something to love about everyone around her. So I guess I'd label this a breath-of-fresh-air kind of story!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Hall

    Characters: Ah, the characters were my favorite part of this book. I loved how they joked around with each other! They seemed like real friends. Language: Clean. There was one cuss word cut off after the first letter though. Moral: This was one of those books by a Christian publisher that didn't really have any Christian content. The main religion in this novel was Catholicism. This book treated Catholicism basically like another denomination of Christianity--which isn't true. Both the lack of Ch Characters: Ah, the characters were my favorite part of this book. I loved how they joked around with each other! They seemed like real friends. Language: Clean. There was one cuss word cut off after the first letter though. Moral: This was one of those books by a Christian publisher that didn't really have any Christian content. The main religion in this novel was Catholicism. This book treated Catholicism basically like another denomination of Christianity--which isn't true. Both the lack of Christian content and the inclusion of Catholicism as truth were disappointing to me. If this were a secular book, I wouldn't have had a major problem with either of these things, but this was supposed to be Christian fiction. Plot: Although this wasn't an action-packed read (except for a few parts), this book kept me flipping pages because of the great character relationships, interesting developments, threats, and well-integrated historical facts. Random comments: My griping section :) Drinking was presented in a pretty favorable light. Also, Ellie and Raphe spent the night in Ellie's house before they were married. Nothing happened and they slept in separate rooms, but this just seemed like a dumb move. It wasn't even like they had to stay there together because of a storm or anything. Romance: Clean. Writing: Valerie's style fit this book well. I especially liked how she created realistic, sometimes humorous dialogue. Overall: Under the Bayou Moon was an entertaining read, and I'd recommend it for those who enjoy clean fiction and historical fiction.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Staci

    1947-1950 Louisiana The author does a spectacular job with the atmosphere and geography. The characters are also well done. The story line started off strong, but then wasn't as compelling. Overall, a good novel, but not my favorite by the author. 1947-1950 Louisiana The author does a spectacular job with the atmosphere and geography. The characters are also well done. The story line started off strong, but then wasn't as compelling. Overall, a good novel, but not my favorite by the author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    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 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.*

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rosalyn

    As I sat and mused over the book, still holding it in my hand, my daughter asked me, are you crying? No, I said, just thinking....and this is definitely one of those books that leaves you with lots of thoughts to process. First, I have to say, I absolutely loved this book. Valerie Fraser Luesse has a talent with words. Her gift is bringing faraway times and places, sights, tastes, and smells, to life, right there in front of you. This story left me oh so hungry--hungry for that delicious Cajun foo As I sat and mused over the book, still holding it in my hand, my daughter asked me, are you crying? No, I said, just thinking....and this is definitely one of those books that leaves you with lots of thoughts to process. First, I have to say, I absolutely loved this book. Valerie Fraser Luesse has a talent with words. Her gift is bringing faraway times and places, sights, tastes, and smells, to life, right there in front of you. This story left me oh so hungry--hungry for that delicious Cajun food, hungry for the beautiful, lush sights of that southern Louisiana bayou. I just loved Ellie. Such a strong, yet sweet heroine. Determined, real, a gal that I'd want to have as a friend. I loved her story. Seeing the bayou through her eyes. Getting to know that beautiful land, the charming culture, and so much more. This is a story of finding one's self. Of love, family, friendship, and belonging. Mixed in with the Cajun culture, there is also a hint of mystery, of politics, and of darkness. Ms. Luesse has done such a fabulous job of weaving hope into this story line. I was sad when I realized I'd read the final pages. This is a story that I will definitely be reading again, characters that I will have a hard time leaving in the book, because they will stay with me for a very long time. Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    It was an excellent love story set in the bayous of the Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana. The characters are believable and for the most part likeable. Raphe Broussard is raising his nephew Remy on his own when Ellie Fields, the town’s new schoolteacher, comes to town from Alabama. She was different than her predecessors. All of them had been more interested erasing the very culture beginning by taking the French language out of students, more than anything else. . She immediately endears herself to It was an excellent love story set in the bayous of the Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana. The characters are believable and for the most part likeable. Raphe Broussard is raising his nephew Remy on his own when Ellie Fields, the town’s new schoolteacher, comes to town from Alabama. She was different than her predecessors. All of them had been more interested erasing the very culture beginning by taking the French language out of students, more than anything else. . She immediately endears herself to the children as well as the town with her respect for their culture and her devotion to her tasks. Ralph is pretty taken with her also. Trouble soon rears its ugly head when a powerful oil company sets its sights on what could be a fortune in oil buried beneath the town. The author sprinkles the tale with lots of bad guys searching for wealth and not caring about what they destroy in resources or human life. Throw in a mythical albino alligator...a “esprit Blanc” that allegedly roams the swamps, and you have a delightful, interesting and engaging story. Those of you that enjoy Southern romances will love this one. Actual Rating 4.5 Stars I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest opinion. The views expressed by this reviewer are entirely my own

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Krispense

    When I saw that this book takes place on the Louisiana bayou, seeing as how someone very close to me is from LA, I of course had to request to review it. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. It took me a couple of weeks to get into the story; A young woman (Ellie) on her way to a new job in the middle of nowhere stops at a diner and gets sage advice from a wiser lady, higher in years, that works behind the counter of a diner befitting the era of the story. Yippee. And then, enter stage right: Heywood Thornb When I saw that this book takes place on the Louisiana bayou, seeing as how someone very close to me is from LA, I of course had to request to review it. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. It took me a couple of weeks to get into the story; A young woman (Ellie) on her way to a new job in the middle of nowhere stops at a diner and gets sage advice from a wiser lady, higher in years, that works behind the counter of a diner befitting the era of the story. Yippee. And then, enter stage right: Heywood Thornberry. I adore Heywood. Like...y'all. Heywood needs his own novel, please and thank you. On the surface, Heywood is a happy-go-luck ladies' man, a good ol' boy that everyone wants as their friend. But the way he took care of Ellie...just...yes. Oh my goodness, I adore Heywood. So then, things started looking up. You learn a bit more about Ellie herself, and she...was an outstanding character. The deep compassion she had for everyone, her logical approach to everything...I really, really loved her. The way she was determined to help the children—and those around her—greatly inspired me. Plus, I just found her generally relatable. And then we meet Raphe: quiet. Calm. Easygoing, yet intense. I adored the way he looked after Remy like his own son, the way he gently handled Ellie when she needed it most. His compassion for those around him, and the way he always helped out wherever needed. And his friendship with Heywood? LET ME TELL YOU. That trio—Raphe, Ellie, Heywood—was specTACULAR. The fact that if one of them got bored (*cough* mainly Heywood *cough*) they just went and bugged one of the others? Talk about a friend squad. The spiritual aspect was more cultural than an actual theme in the book, but somehow, it fit. The majority of the cast of characters was catholic, but while I'm not catholic, I also didn't read a lot of catholic doctrine, either...like I said, it was more of a culture thing than an actual message. The message in the book wasn't a spelled-out obvious spiritual truth; it was the subtle theme of close-knit community. Set a few years after WWII, the governor of Louisiana is trying to stamp out the creole culture, banning the French language from the state. But with ulterior motives comes the realization that when you try to pit neighbors against each other, it'll backfire on you. The people of Bernadette are some of the most loving people you'll ever meet, and the most stubborn. No wonder Ellie fell in love with the place. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher for promotional purposes. All thoughts are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lauren (thebookscript)

    I've never been to the South so i'm always interested in book written in this location. Add a historical fiction and romance element to it and i'm there. This book is about the Cajun culture, finding your passions and where you belong all with a bit of mystery, romance and bayou history. I thought so many of these characters were so endearing it felt a little bit like Heart of Dixie/The Choice but historical fiction style. I only wanted a bit more romance between the characters but the romance t I've never been to the South so i'm always interested in book written in this location. Add a historical fiction and romance element to it and i'm there. This book is about the Cajun culture, finding your passions and where you belong all with a bit of mystery, romance and bayou history. I thought so many of these characters were so endearing it felt a little bit like Heart of Dixie/The Choice but historical fiction style. I only wanted a bit more romance between the characters but the romance that did exist was really sweet and well done. Alligators also fascinate and terrify me so that element was really cool as well. I was fascinated with the Bayou and the people that lived there. A whole community built upon a river with gator infested waters....crazy! Also having to row into town just puts it on a whole other level. It was also really interesting learning about the Cajun people who lived there and weren't allowed to speak their native French language in schools. Booking my trip to the south asap because I'd love to see a little bit of these awe inspiring land for myself!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Timerman

    I really enjoyed this read, from beginning to end it was a breath of fresh air to keep turning the pages. A young woman is coming to teach these poor children who have been traumatized by previous teachers, and we get to watch as Ellie puts herself out there. There is the love of a child, of a community, and a love for their fellowman, and it flows from individual to another. The banter is at times laugh out loud and the, and the caring is so heartwarming! Be sure to read the epilogue, we are gifte I really enjoyed this read, from beginning to end it was a breath of fresh air to keep turning the pages. A young woman is coming to teach these poor children who have been traumatized by previous teachers, and we get to watch as Ellie puts herself out there. There is the love of a child, of a community, and a love for their fellowman, and it flows from individual to another. The banter is at times laugh out loud and the, and the caring is so heartwarming! Be sure to read the epilogue, we are gifted! I received this book through the Publisher Revell, and was not required to give a positive review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews

    I had a hard time getting into another book that I was reading, so I decided to pick this one up knowing that it needed to be read soon. I could NOT put the book down! Oh My Word! I feel like the author must have looked into my family tree when writing these characters in South Louisiana. Heck, even one of the characters had the same last name as people in my family tree. I guess this is what happens when an author writes about the Cajun culture with which I am somewhat familiar...but even I lea I had a hard time getting into another book that I was reading, so I decided to pick this one up knowing that it needed to be read soon. I could NOT put the book down! Oh My Word! I feel like the author must have looked into my family tree when writing these characters in South Louisiana. Heck, even one of the characters had the same last name as people in my family tree. I guess this is what happens when an author writes about the Cajun culture with which I am somewhat familiar...but even I learned a few things. This story takes us back to the late 40s in a small town where poverty runs rampant but the sense of community is humbling. These people looked out for each other and while it might be hard to give their trust to you, once you have earned it there is no looking back. The camaraderie is what we should all try to achieve in our own lives. Ellie accepted a teaching position in this small town and she is exactly what they need to educate their children and breathe life into this sleepy little town. From the moment she arrives, she wants nothing more than to foster a positive environment for the children because word is that the previous teachers were not kind. All because one man didn't want French to be spoken by anyone, mostly because he couldn't speak it and didn't know what they were saying. But you can't stamp out heritage and embracing the dual languages can only be a good thing. But that was then and this is now and the mindset was very different. Even though Ellie is there to teach the children, she finds love with Raphe, a local man that is raising his nephew. Their journey together is beautiful and reminds us that you can find love if you only take the chance. Perhaps one of my favorite characters is Heywood. Ellie first meets him in New Orleans by chance, but they form a fast friendship that spans the years. Heywood has his own issues by believing he won't live to see his 30th birthday. I liked how Ellie brought all of this into perspective for him and encouraged him to see a different path for his life. This tiny town has its share of tragedies that might have brought another community to its knees. Not this town. They rallied around each other and found solutions that worked for everyone. I liked that they did not discriminate based on color or religion. I loved every bit of this book and highly recommend it to everyone. We give it 5 paws up.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christine Indorf

    I would give this a 4.5 stars if I could. Such a lovely story love and mercy. A teacher moves to Alabama to the Bayou. Life is different there for her. Race means nothing, the children and adult 1st language is French. The government want only English spoke in schools so the Children are afraid to come. So much for her to face but with the help of God and the good people in her community she sets out to teach each child with respect and even with a little French thrown in. She meets and marries I would give this a 4.5 stars if I could. Such a lovely story love and mercy. A teacher moves to Alabama to the Bayou. Life is different there for her. Race means nothing, the children and adult 1st language is French. The government want only English spoke in schools so the Children are afraid to come. So much for her to face but with the help of God and the good people in her community she sets out to teach each child with respect and even with a little French thrown in. She meets and marries a local men who is taking care of his nephew. Even when the government goes after the community they ban together both white and black alike. This story was amazing. The love in this community was so heart warming. I love the best friend and the boyfriend to the teacher and of course the teacher who stands up for each and every student brought to her, her strength is encouraging. I so recommend this book and the narrator for the audiobook is excellent, she has the accent down perfectly. I hope you read it and enjoy it as much I as did!!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    It's 1949 and Ellie has decided that she needs more adventure in her life. She accepts a teaching job in the bayou of Louisiana in the small town of Bernadette and leaves her family home in Alabama. She's a strong willed woman and isn't sure that she'll fit in her new life but knew that she had to try something new and not get locked into the normal life of marriage and children as many women did during this time period. When she gets to the small town she is going to teach in, she's amazed at t It's 1949 and Ellie has decided that she needs more adventure in her life. She accepts a teaching job in the bayou of Louisiana in the small town of Bernadette and leaves her family home in Alabama. She's a strong willed woman and isn't sure that she'll fit in her new life but knew that she had to try something new and not get locked into the normal life of marriage and children as many women did during this time period. When she gets to the small town she is going to teach in, she's amazed at the beauty of the area. She quickly finds out that many of the children don't like school because the previous teacher had punished them for using French in the normal conversation -- the state wanted to wipe out this part of their heritage. As the townspeople begin to accept this new teacher, she finds that she's making enemies with the school board and a local politician who has secret plans for the area. She soon meets a Cajun fisherman Raphe and his nephew that he's raising. He teaches her more about the people and the area and even tells her the story of the elusive white alligator who has been seen in the swamps. The more time they spend together, the more their feelings for each other grow. A shocking event that affects the entire town makes them both question their lives. Will they be able to move ahead with their lives and find their happily-ever-after ending? I have read and enjoyed previous books by this author. She has a way of creating very real characters that her readers care about. She also described the bayou of Louisiana so beautifully that it was a major part of the story. I look forward to whatever she writes next. Thanks to the publisher and librarything for a copy of this book to read and review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nora St Laurent

    I enjoyed learning the ways of the Bayou along with Ellie Fields. The author says, “Under the Bayou Moon was written primarily from the perspective of an outsider discovering Acadian Louisiana for the first time, just as I did. My sincere hope is that you’ve enjoyed discovering this singular place with Ellie Fields and that you fell in love with it just as she did.” Me too! Grin! I appreciate the author’s research which turned out to be a yearlong exploration of Acadian Louisiana through the peop I enjoyed learning the ways of the Bayou along with Ellie Fields. The author says, “Under the Bayou Moon was written primarily from the perspective of an outsider discovering Acadian Louisiana for the first time, just as I did. My sincere hope is that you’ve enjoyed discovering this singular place with Ellie Fields and that you fell in love with it just as she did.” Me too! Grin! I appreciate the author’s research which turned out to be a yearlong exploration of Acadian Louisiana through the people she met who shared their love, and history of Louisiana. The authors passion and fascination for Louisiana excels through her characters and how she describes the allure of Cajun culture, as she (and Ellie) learned about their prejudices, and legends (like the one about the white alligator). The author states she credited Ellie’s passion for teaching and her love of history to her Aunt Patsy. She says, “her faith and love were shining examples to me...” Ellie leaves Alabama and sets off on an adventure to Bernadette (where she hopes to serve as a teacher), but New Orleans was calling her name, she had to go there first. Ellie meets some interesting people there, especially Haywood, a photographer who helps her navigate some tough spots. She shares with him her desire to use the gifts God had given her to be part of something important. She didn’t want to just be a housewife. She felt called to do more. Haywood describes the Bayou and tells her about his good friend Raphe a local fisherman doing his best in raising his nephew Remy, who lost his parents. I enjoyed secondary characters, Doc and Florence. & Haywood just as much as the main characters. I also felt that the Bayou became a character in the story too, with the small town feel of Bernadette, Louisiana, a one-room schoolhouse, superstitions, the people’s sincere faith and how they looked forward to spending time each week to celebrate life on the Bayou. It made me want to join in the fun. I loved Ellie’s passion for teaching the children and adults. She wanted to learn from the locals too. From the moment she arrives, Ellie wants nothing more than to create an environment for the children to thrive in, not one of fear as previous teachers had done. She was all about keeping the people’s heritage alive while embracing the dual languages. She wanted to show that it could be a good thing. Moreover, she had her work cut out for her. I was emotionally invested in this rich story right from the start, with vivid characters and a story that naturally leads to a great discussion time at your book club. It’s also a wonderful staycation! Grin! Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” Nora St. Laurent TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! The Book Club Network blog www.bookfun.org

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    3.5 stars "I think I'd rather just find somebody I could be quiet with". Adjusting to her new life in the tiny town of Bernadette, Louisiana, Ellie Field is full of anticipation; she's the new school teacher, and already the locals are filling her head with all sorts of reasons why their children have continually despised going to school. Primarily, the state superintendent has determined that the Cajun language and culture should be sacrificed to progression; Ellie begs to differ. One of the fir 3.5 stars "I think I'd rather just find somebody I could be quiet with". Adjusting to her new life in the tiny town of Bernadette, Louisiana, Ellie Field is full of anticipation; she's the new school teacher, and already the locals are filling her head with all sorts of reasons why their children have continually despised going to school. Primarily, the state superintendent has determined that the Cajun language and culture should be sacrificed to progression; Ellie begs to differ. One of the first people Ellie meets is an enigmatic young fisherman, Raphe Broussard, whose kindness and selflessness has extended out into his community as well as inward towards his young orphaned nephew Remy, who lives with Raphe. As Ellie masters the challenges of teaching multiple grades, Raphe and Remy help her become more and more comfortable in her remote surroundings. But all is not as beautiful as the moonlight on the bayou; danger and greed lurk in the shadows of the tall swamp grasses, along with a well kept secret that hides beneath local lore . . . . the tales of a white alligator are not just a figment of a storyteller's imagination. Brimming with Louisiana culture and mystique, this story does have some minor hiccups. Scene changes and time lapses are bumpy and unpredictable, but fortunately the characters rise to every occasion, searing their sense of benevolent community spirit towards each and every family, regardless of race, religion or economic standing, into your conscience. Is there a difference between happiness and contentment? Perhaps, Raphe and Ellie have found the answer to that question. "Ellie heard - for the first time in her life - the sound of pure contentment, flowing over her like creek water on smooth rocks. And she knew without a doubt that she could listen to it forever." I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.

  16. 4 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    The storyline is fabulous, but it’s the descriptions of the bayou that won me over. I can’t wait to experience nightfall on the Atchafalaya River from a bass boat, complete with the twinkling lights from lanterns and the nocturnal sounds of life all around me. I want to see the “bayous dotted with ancient cypress trees, their Spanish moss hanging like the lace-gloved fingers of a Louisiana debutante” and “swaying like a sild gown in the night breeze.” Valerie Fraser Luesse’s, “Under The Bayou Moo The storyline is fabulous, but it’s the descriptions of the bayou that won me over. I can’t wait to experience nightfall on the Atchafalaya River from a bass boat, complete with the twinkling lights from lanterns and the nocturnal sounds of life all around me. I want to see the “bayous dotted with ancient cypress trees, their Spanish moss hanging like the lace-gloved fingers of a Louisiana debutante” and “swaying like a sild gown in the night breeze.” Valerie Fraser Luesse’s, “Under The Bayou Moon,” reads like a leisurely pole in a pirogue down the bayou! If the bayou isn’t on your bucket list yet, you’ll be adding it after reading her descriptions of the swamp, gumbo, jambalaya and sweet lemonade, not to mention the loveable people who inhabit this beautiful place in the world. It’s been marketed as a post WW2 love story set in the bayous of the Atchafalaya Basin, but it’s so much more than that! It’s about a teacher, unhappy with her life in Alabama, accepting a teaching position in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. In an attempt to heal the beautiful people she lives and works with, she ends up healing herself. This beautiful southern historical fiction is a fabulous read. Ellie Fields, a restless teacher, has separated herself from everything she’s ever known, her home, family, and job when she takes a chance “living in the middle of a bayou, paddling a boat instead of driving a car, and doing without electricity and running water.” When she arrives in Bernadette, Louisiana, a Cajun fisherman, Raphe Broussard, takes her under his wing. He’s lost everything in a hurricane and is raising his nephew Remy on his own. You will read about legendary albino alligators who roam the swamp, about greedy people who offer bounty to get the community to turn on each other, and about an oil company who only thinks of money, not people. It becomes obvious why this community is so suspicious of outsiders; they threaten their language, their culture and their very existence. As a teacher, this story is dear to my heart. History tells us that the “British banned Acadians from Canada because they wouldn’t side with them against the French. Acadian people were put on ships and sent away. Here, nearly 200 years later, they are persecuted because they sound different from the rest” and want to raise their families with remembrance of their culture. Ellie has her work cut out for her; the children need healing before they can learn. “If the teacher hears you say anything en francais, she’ll yell at you and maybe hit your hand with a ruler and tell the whole class you’re acting un-American.” “The teacher said we oughta be able to pick it up from hearin’ her read to us and followin’ along in our books, but three of us had to share one, and it was hard to see. I just can’t get the hang of it.” “It’s strange – you can save your life or lose it just by choosing where to be when the sun rises.” “Where does love end and selfishness begin? Or could it be possible for one to overcome the other if you loved somebody so much that their happiness was your own?” Publishes August 3, 2021. I was gifted this advance copy by Valerie Fraser Luesse, Revell Books, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse is an excellent Southern historical fiction that is beautiful, haunting, and truly special. This is the first book I have read by this author and I have to say I am impressed. Her ability to describe, recreate, and place the reader within the heart of the South is just stunning. I really felt I was there in Louisiana. The customs, inhabitants, and societal aspects were spot on. I loved the story of Ellie Fields and her quest to find herself, her purpo Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse is an excellent Southern historical fiction that is beautiful, haunting, and truly special. This is the first book I have read by this author and I have to say I am impressed. Her ability to describe, recreate, and place the reader within the heart of the South is just stunning. I really felt I was there in Louisiana. The customs, inhabitants, and societal aspects were spot on. I loved the story of Ellie Fields and her quest to find herself, her purpose, and her attempts to make her mark on this small, rural town. The progression of the story as she experiences trials, obstacles, and tests (personal and professional) as she is finally welcomed into this community were wonderful. The power of love, friendship, faith, hope, and perseverance are fundamental within this narrative. This is a slow burn that is beautiful, gripping, and heartwarming all at the same time. I highly recommend this book. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Revell for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    I reviewed this book for Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Per their policy, I cannot post the review until after it is posted on the HNS website on August 1st. I will update the review then.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Ellie Fields comes to the small south Louisiana town of Bernadette, Louisiana looking to break out of the mold life seems to have set for her in her home state of Alabama. She isn’t sure who she’ll turn out to be, but she knows she can’t find out by staying where she’s always been. So she moves to a place where she knows no one to take the position of teacher in the town’s school. The people of Bernadette are welcoming, but there is some skepticism about this new teacher. The state board of educa Ellie Fields comes to the small south Louisiana town of Bernadette, Louisiana looking to break out of the mold life seems to have set for her in her home state of Alabama. She isn’t sure who she’ll turn out to be, but she knows she can’t find out by staying where she’s always been. So she moves to a place where she knows no one to take the position of teacher in the town’s school. The people of Bernadette are welcoming, but there is some skepticism about this new teacher. The state board of education decided that the French-speaking culture didn’t fit with the desired image of America, and the previous teacher had punished the students severely if they slipped and spoke in their native tongue. Ellie has her work cut out for her to not only educate the children, but to win their trust as well. Raphe is a local fisherman who lost his family in a hurricane. He is raising his nephew Remy, who is one of Ellie’s students. He shares the legend of the white alligator, l’esprit blanc, with Ellie. She learns to love her new home, and the town comes to love and respect her for her care toward their children and their culture. But all is not peaceful in Bernadette. As it does with just about everything in Louisiana, politics comes into play when a well-connected politician takes aim at enriching his bank account with the potential fortune in oil under Bernadette. He will stop at nothing to achieve his goal, and he doesn’t care who he has to hurt or kill to do it. This book, y’all. I’m a Louisiana girl. (Raised in central Louisiana, not south, but still.) My former father-in-law was Cajun French. He’d tell us how they were punished if they spoke French in class. That is absolutely true. Louisiana, French to its core, tried to destroy its own heritage because some folks thought it was low-class. That breaks my heart. (Glad to say we got away from that narrow-minded attitude – I took French from elementary through high school, and French immersion classes aren’t uncommon these days. Trying to bring back what never should have been driven away.) The Cajun people will give you the shirt off their backs, but if they don’t trust you – and in the 1940s, they had no reason to trust anyone representing any aspect of the government – they will shut you out. Ellie had quite the task set for her, and Luesse has her handling that task admirably. I loved how Ellie drew in some of the older children to help her, not only to keep order, but to show all of them that she wasn’t interested in cutting off their connection to their roots. I loved how she used cultural aspects in the classroom, to engage the children and hold their interest. And the politics ring true as well. Everything is political in Louisiana. That’s why our roads are hot garbage and so many things seem so very backward. It’s not out of the question that someone would bulldoze over others to get what they want if it stood to make them money. The characters of the book were so vivid, I felt like they could live just down the road from me. The portrayal of the older Cajun ladies, willing to trade knowledge for knowledge, was marvelous. Haywood was a delight. I know people like Haywood, just full of the joy of life. He made me smile. And it was a treat seeing Ellie grow and blossom. She may not have known her own mind when she came to Bernadette, but she certainly went a long way toward figuring it out. I cried at the end, waving goodbye to friends. Since this book is set in my home state, I was predisposed to like it before I turned the first page. The fact that the author is a Baylor graduate (like me!) also inclined me to think favorably of it. Now that I’ve finished, I can say that this is a book that will stay in my mind for a very, very long time. It isn’t the same type of magical realism as, say, Heather Webber or Sarah Addison Allen, but Under the Bayou Moon is magical all the same. Luesse draws a compelling picture of small-town south Louisiana, its people, and its culture, and that weaves a spell all its own. Go, read it. You won’t be disappointed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beckie Burnham

    Valerie Fraser Luesse is a masterful writer of Southern historical fiction. Focusing on the middle years of the 20th century, her books bring to life the paradoxes of the South. The power of community is a strong theme in her books, but she does not shy away from the prejudices and injustices that plagued the part of America that claims my heart. In her newest novel, Under the Bayou Moon, Luesse travels back to post-WWII Cajun country. I am a big fan of Louisiana — it is one of my favorite place Valerie Fraser Luesse is a masterful writer of Southern historical fiction. Focusing on the middle years of the 20th century, her books bring to life the paradoxes of the South. The power of community is a strong theme in her books, but she does not shy away from the prejudices and injustices that plagued the part of America that claims my heart. In her newest novel, Under the Bayou Moon, Luesse travels back to post-WWII Cajun country. I am a big fan of Louisiana — it is one of my favorite places to visit, and I felt like I was set right down in the midst of small town Bernadette with its loving, fiercely independent, and thorougly cajun/creole residents. Bernadette is in Bayou country — houses are on stilts on the edge of the swampy inlets, adults and children get to town, work, and school via fishing boats and pirogues. I can’t say it enough. Luesse brought the place and time to life for this reader. The story of Ellie and Raphe, an Alabama schoolteacher and a cajun fisherman, is charming. The two are characters I came to love and will never forget. There’s romance, suspense, danger, and a bit of magic involved in their story. If you ever visit the bayou, I promise you will be on the lookout for a white alligator! 😉 Luesse does not sugarcoat the history of the region, however. The plan to rid Louisiana from the cajun culture was real. I’m just glad that as in the book, the politicians did not succeed! Filled with all the flavor of a very special region, Under The Bayou Moon is a must-read. I loved it all — the beautifully detailed setting, the endearing characters, and the uncovering of an important history. This book is very highly recommended! Very Highly Recommended. Audience: adults.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennie Rosenblum

    Do you ever get that zing across the heart when you see a book cover and then read the review? I knew right away that this book was going to be a treat. So much so that I got it in paper. I wanted that special feeling that comes with each turn of page. I was not disappointed. I found myself quickly falling into Miss Ellie Fields’ world. The strength for this single woman to not just step out of her comfortable life in the 1940’s, but to step into an incredible challenge was portrayed with sophist Do you ever get that zing across the heart when you see a book cover and then read the review? I knew right away that this book was going to be a treat. So much so that I got it in paper. I wanted that special feeling that comes with each turn of page. I was not disappointed. I found myself quickly falling into Miss Ellie Fields’ world. The strength for this single woman to not just step out of her comfortable life in the 1940’s, but to step into an incredible challenge was portrayed with sophistication. Miss Ellie needed to teach the way most of us need to breathe. Immersing into the world of Cajun and life in the bayou, she did it with both eyes and her heart wide open. What she finds is almost another planet. However, tucked around the edges there are still the politics of the time and place as well as evil in the heart of some. Supporting Miss Elle is the incredible Heywood. He is a man of many skills and a master behind a camera. The author tells his tale with flair and beautiful dialogue. I could not stop myself from having a crush on him. Also Raphe & Remy. Two souls trying to figure out their path together. Having both suffered incredible loss, they find solace in Miss Ellie. The most influential character is the bayou. The descriptions made me long to sit on the porch with Miss Ellie and watch the sunrise. And the white alligator –- having seen one at the Houston Zoo, I was mesmerized. They are regal in their appearance and I cannot fathom sighting one in their home. I thoroughly enjoyed this entire book. Watch out friends and family – it may be your next gift!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is the first book by Valerie Fraser Luesse that I have read and I don't plan on it being the last. I was completely captivated by this story. I loved the setting as it is an area in Louisiana I was able to visit this year. I wish more novels were set in the bayou because I find it to be a unique way of life. The characters in this novel were just wonderful. Very different, fun, and real. There is a lot of pain but also so much humor you can't help but laugh at times. A lot seems to happen i This is the first book by Valerie Fraser Luesse that I have read and I don't plan on it being the last. I was completely captivated by this story. I loved the setting as it is an area in Louisiana I was able to visit this year. I wish more novels were set in the bayou because I find it to be a unique way of life. The characters in this novel were just wonderful. Very different, fun, and real. There is a lot of pain but also so much humor you can't help but laugh at times. A lot seems to happen in a short span of time but in reality for the time period in which this book is set I found it to be believable. The friendships in this book really stood out to me and I so enjoyed having that be a main thread instead of a dramatic love story. Don't get me wrong there is a sweet love story here too, a couple in fact. But I love it when secondary characters leave their mark on the story in a lasting way. The ending was terrific and I am eager to get my hands on more books by this author. Five Stars. "I received this book from Revell for free. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tangled in Text

    Under the Bayou Moon was soul and artistry. This was a beautifully descriptive and vibrant atmospheric piece. There were no corners cut with the author taking every opportunity to add a little gem in each scene keeping the setting alive and at the forefront. It gave me Where The Crawdads Sing vibes and I was loving it! I love such attention to detail! I love that I was able to escape to a completely different time and place each time I picked up this book! Under the Bayou Moon was a heartwarming Under the Bayou Moon was soul and artistry. This was a beautifully descriptive and vibrant atmospheric piece. There were no corners cut with the author taking every opportunity to add a little gem in each scene keeping the setting alive and at the forefront. It gave me Where The Crawdads Sing vibes and I was loving it! I love such attention to detail! I love that I was able to escape to a completely different time and place each time I picked up this book! Under the Bayou Moon was a heartwarming piece that held immense depth. Every character was so intentional from the very beginning helping uncover the many layers into each of the main characters. I will say that I fell in love with Ellie instantly! From peeping into a bar scene to making sure the children understand the artwork on the school floor. It was so easy to relate to someone trying to find their way after deciding to fight for themselves. She was inspiring, empathetic, strong, and relatable. I can't wait to read this one again. A story like this with such immense detail is the type of story that each time you read it you pick up a different detail. I'd recommend this to someone that wants to be inspired, pulled in emotionally, and enthralled visually with such descriptive elements. Thank you Lonestar Literary Life for the free review copy!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kailey

    I absolutely loved this book! I’ve been feeling so burnt out lately and this book reminded me why I love reading so much! I was drawn into this book almost instantly. I immediately loved Ellie and Raphe! Heywood was definitely another favorite character! I loved the way they interacted with each other. I was also captivated by the Cajun storytelling. I really couldn’t put this book down! This is one of the best books that I’ve read this year! I highly recommend it! I received a complimentary cop I absolutely loved this book! I’ve been feeling so burnt out lately and this book reminded me why I love reading so much! I was drawn into this book almost instantly. I immediately loved Ellie and Raphe! Heywood was definitely another favorite character! I loved the way they interacted with each other. I was also captivated by the Cajun storytelling. I really couldn’t put this book down! This is one of the best books that I’ve read this year! I highly recommend it! I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis

    Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and Revell Books for an advance reader copy. All comments and opinions are my own. If you loved the beautiful descriptions in Where The Crawdads Sing of the coastal marsh wildlife of North Carolina's Outer Banks, you'll be equally enamored of author Valerie Luesse's haunting Louisiana Bayou descriptions of water and wildlife in Under the Bayou Moon. And Luesse also renders her characters authentically, from the Cajun dialect to the 1949 simple lifest Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and Revell Books for an advance reader copy. All comments and opinions are my own. If you loved the beautiful descriptions in Where The Crawdads Sing of the coastal marsh wildlife of North Carolina's Outer Banks, you'll be equally enamored of author Valerie Luesse's haunting Louisiana Bayou descriptions of water and wildlife in Under the Bayou Moon. And Luesse also renders her characters authentically, from the Cajun dialect to the 1949 simple lifestyle of those who live on the Atchafalaya River. Many don't have electricity or indoor plumbing, but do have a close-knit community that supports and looks after each other. The story begins with 20-something Ellie Fields leaving her home in Alabama to take a teaching position in a one-room school in the small town of Bernadette, Louisiana. Knowing no one, she wants "to serve where I am most needed and to use whatever gifts God has given me to make the world a better place, especially for children." Ellie soon meets several people who welcome her, and she in turn sets up the school's interior to welcome the children, including those who speak French against the school board's rules. Luesse portrays southern rural life realistically, with its prejudices, superstitions, and sincere faith. The small town setting includes the general store, the schoolhouse, and the dance hall/community center. But the bayou is front and center in the story. The novel is populated with both good, warm-hearted people as well as villainous characters who are a bit two-dimensional but provide the necessary plot tension. This was a satisfying story with some exciting and dangerous twists, a romance or two, delicious descriptions of Louisiana dishes, and even a trip to 1949 New Orleans.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I adored this book, I’ve read the authors work before but this is my favorite. The characters are so rich and the this setting is magical. I was so intrigued with the Cajun culture and the hint of mystery and darkness. Ellie is strong and sweet and definitely my friend. A crawdads-esq book that I’ll definitely recommend.

  27. 5 out of 5

    June 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 u 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. Highly-recommended! 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. #########################################

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Valerie Fraser Luesse paints a stunning portrait of Louisiana in the late 40s in Under the Bayou Moon, where the beauty of an ancient land and enriched culture is threatened by prejudice and greed. The story is a familiar one, especially to anyone with roots in this part of the South. The old way of life and a fading culture is threatened when oil-hungry tycoons seek to displace and steal resources beneath the soil. In real life, the good guys rarely seem to win, and the innocent suffer. But that Valerie Fraser Luesse paints a stunning portrait of Louisiana in the late 40s in Under the Bayou Moon, where the beauty of an ancient land and enriched culture is threatened by prejudice and greed. The story is a familiar one, especially to anyone with roots in this part of the South. The old way of life and a fading culture is threatened when oil-hungry tycoons seek to displace and steal resources beneath the soil. In real life, the good guys rarely seem to win, and the innocent suffer. But that isn't always true. Sometimes, people take a stand. People like Raphe, a man born and raised on the bayou, have taken in his orphaned nephew and knows no other way to live. And like Ellie, an educated woman running from her past in hopes of a meaningful future. And the Cajun people of the bayou, who have been stripped of their first language, forced to speak and conform to English, may find another chance despite the odds.  There were so many beautiful moments in Under the Bayou Moon, moments of stillness when the characters would stop to notice what others overlook. I've often sought beauty in the little things in similar ways, so I really connected with Ellie and Raphe's love for nature, but also people. From Ellie's ability to look for the story behind the tired woman in New Orleans, to Raphe's breathlessness over his love of the bayou, each little moment felt timeless and special. Like we as the reader were allowed to peek through the keyhole into something we might not have otherwise seen or cared to notice. It's this kind of pacing that I think I appreciate with each year in a fast-paced modern world.  Valerie Fraser Luesse doesn't pull her punches with Under the Bayou Moon as she uses her gift of building characters with the landscape in harmonies we may overlook. And she places a glass over the near-distant past when the problems of a small rural Louisiana community are just as relevant today. Luesse doesn't just tell stories, she makes you feel along with her characters, and best of all she makes you think. If you're anything like me, you won't want to put this down until the beautifully bittersweet end. 

  29. 5 out of 5

    teatunesandtales

    Under the Bayou Moon is a historical fiction novel by Valerie Fraser Luesse set after WWII in the bayou of Louisiana. Ellie Fields gets a job offer she couldn't resist: teaching kids in a tiny bayou town far away from her Alabama home. The job doesn't come without its challenges, however, as this is during a time when the government is trying to purge native cultures and languages from its people, saying it's un-American to be anything else. Cajun culture is a mix of French Canadian cultures and Under the Bayou Moon is a historical fiction novel by Valerie Fraser Luesse set after WWII in the bayou of Louisiana. Ellie Fields gets a job offer she couldn't resist: teaching kids in a tiny bayou town far away from her Alabama home. The job doesn't come without its challenges, however, as this is during a time when the government is trying to purge native cultures and languages from its people, saying it's un-American to be anything else. Cajun culture is a mix of French Canadian cultures and languages, but becomes a beautiful mythological blend that takes on a life of its own in the southern region of America. Ellie's task, along with educating all children from small to teen, is to prevent the children from speaking in the native language of their grandparents or parents, the very fabric of their culture. But Ellie wants nothing of that agenda, as she believes that a peoples' culture is the lifeblood of their survival and preservation. Raphe Broussard, a local fisherman who is raising his young nephew after a family tragedy, becomes Ellie's love interest. Upon first meeting, they were at ease with each other, and started spending more time together. Raphe teaching Ellie the local folklore and the Cajun French language, which she gladly accepts. Heywood Thornberry is a transplant to Bernadette, Louisiana, and good friend of Raphe, who met Ellie prior to her arrival to Bernadette, as she passed through New Orleans. I'm not sure how I feel about Heywood, who flits in and out of his friends lives, and his elusive "fiancé" Claudette, who remains a mystery through much of the book. There's almost a love triangle-esque feel to Ellie's relationship with Heywood and Raphe. Enter stage left, the white alligator...the bayou legend that seems more myth than real, but nonetheless has a $5,000 bounty on its head by the local pastor. It's even crazier than it sounds. The white alligator's presence saturates nearly every page of the story, from the very beginning, weaving its story into the lives of every person in the tiny town of Bernadette like an intricate tapestry. This book felt different from other historical fiction books I've read, likely since I was not familiar with much of the Cajun culture prior to reading. With that in mind, this made for a beautiful read that kind of permeates the soul as you immerse yourself into the lives of the people, watching Ellie become her true self, Raphe heal from the trauma of his tragic loss, and the townspeople trust an outsider with their most sacred things. Beautiful is too lacking of a word to describe how this story felt. Thank you Revell Books for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Janell R.

    When I first saw this book come available, I knew it was a book I’d enjoy. The cover, then the title, and last but not least the blurb. Ya gotta understand somethin’, this takes place right around my neck of the woods (no, I’m not specifically from the bayou or Louisiana, but close), and I have family and friends that do call that place home. Also, I was just in the mood for a nice, cozy, calm read (after all, it is that time of year). So when I started in and recognized several locations right f When I first saw this book come available, I knew it was a book I’d enjoy. The cover, then the title, and last but not least the blurb. Ya gotta understand somethin’, this takes place right around my neck of the woods (no, I’m not specifically from the bayou or Louisiana, but close), and I have family and friends that do call that place home. Also, I was just in the mood for a nice, cozy, calm read (after all, it is that time of year). So when I started in and recognized several locations right from the start, I felt right at home. But seriously, her description of New Orleans and particularly, the French Quarter was absolutely beautiful, and you could practically taste, smell and see it all! I’ll admit I was a little cautious of how she would develop Ellie’s personality and the reason she left home in the first place, but it was great! I could highlight so many wonderful things, but I don’t wanna give away spoilers. Each character was so lovable! Except for the ones that weren’t, of course. ;-P I felt like she dealt with some good issues in a quiet, and practical way, and it was truly just so good! Now you may think with the way I’m describing everything as cozy, homey and comforting, that there’s not much excitement, but that’s certainly not true! There’s definitely an element of intrigue. The resolution of that was quite good, and then the finishing touch of the (almost) last chapter was unexpected, yet just right, and gave me “all the feels”. I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re from the South! *Disclaimer: I received this book from Revell Publishers and happily provided an honest review.

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