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Pelagie: The Return to Acadie by Antonine Maillet

This funny, lyrical account of a daring Acadian widow's journey home from exile is the Mother Courage of Acadian literature. At thirty-five, Pélagie is a survivor of the Great Disruption of 1755, when British soldiers deported Acadians who had farmed along the Bay of Fundy for generations. Splitting up families, the soldiers tossed men, women, and children pell-mell into ships and dispatched them to ports all along the eastern seaboard of the US and to Louisiana. When it was heard years later that the British would tolerate their return to Acadie, thousands loaded possessions and children onto handcarts and set out on foot. After fifteen years of working as a slave in the cotton fields of Georgia, Pélagie, too, has had enough. Drawn home as if by a magnet, inspired by her love of her family and of Beausoleil, a heroic sea captain, and determined to outrace the "Wagon of Death," Pélagie sets off to take her people on a 3,000-mile trek back to their homeland. Her single cart, pulled by six oxen, soon attracts scattered Cormiers and LeBlancs, Landrys and Poiriers, Maillets and Légers. Together, this caravan of colourful Acadians undertakes a ten-year journey up the Atlantic coast to their childhood homes.

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