For the women of Acadia

Cassie Deveaux Cohoon

Severine: A Novel

The Acadians are descendants of the French settlers who established the first permanent white settlement in North America on Ile Ste. Croix, in the Bay of Fundy, in 1604. During the following century and a half, while their mother country France waged war with England, and the new land of Acadia changed hands between them ten times, the Acadians continued to clear the forests and reclaim fertile land from the sea. In 1755, under British rule, they were brutally removed from their rich farmlands and scattered to various parts of the world. After the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, some Acadians returned to live under British rule and some remained in other lands. Their descendants, whether they live on the land that was once Acadia or in exile, still consider themselves Acadian because their mothers and grandmothers kept the dream alive.

 

But who were these women of Acadia? The author explores their lives, through several generations of ordinary women whose stories do not appear in the history of the battles, the negotiations, and the treaties that took place between the French and the British. And she explores what being ‘Acadian’ means for a modern woman who feels alienated from her Acadian roots and questions her identity.

 

 

Comments from readers of Severine:

 

The novel Severine gives an excellent picture of life in early Acadia at the time of the deportation and I particularly loved the experiences presented from Port-Royal to Port-Toulouse to Île-Sté Pierre to Île Madame.  Your picture of the lives of exiled Acadians in the New England states is also, I think, quite accurate.  I have read a number of historical novels on Acadians but none were so well written and so poignant as Severine.   

                                                                                       

 

I find your novel Severine gripping and your portrayal of the characters very vivid and moving.  The book really helped me better understand the struggles and experiences of the early Acadians – especially the women – whose history I only knew as a rough outline.  What they had to endure!  The ‘stone spine’ metaphor is quite apt!  I also appreciate your juxtaposing of the different generations of Acadian women, and that you illustrate some of the problems a woman of a modern generation experiences when leaving the community, while still having roots in that culture.  I found your novel sensitively and compassionately written, as well as honest and revealing in terms of the emotional legacy of a culture that had to endure so many struggles. 

 

 

I want you to know how much I enjoyed reading your novel, Severine.  I was really impressed with your work on this as well as with the story of the Acadians.  What a journey they have had!  It is deeply moving to read of people who survived being forced from their land, but with no provision for them to live somewhere else.  The whole book held my interest throughout reading it.  I especially liked tante Elisabeth, a truly original character and someone who is an example for the rest of us on living a life true to ourselves.  As well, the narrator’s story is also a quest, and the Acadian experience is iconic for her journey from home, and then returning years later, where both everything is changed and nothing is changed.  I can see that the example of the Acadian expulsion has had a very long-term influence on the character and spirit of later generations, up to the present and beyond.                                                                  

 

Quel excellent roman historique!  Facile à lire, ponctué d’une stylistique remarquable, la trame du roman m’a beaucoup plu.  Intéressant du début à la fin et que dire des rebondissements qui me laissaient dans un état de questionnement jusqu’à  la toute fin de l’histoire.  L’authenticité des faits historiques entourant le grand dérangement de 1755 ajoute de l’intensité au contenu.  J’ai passé tous mes temps libres que j’avais au Village Historique Acadien à lire Severine.  J’avais toujours hâte de savoir ce qui allait se passer d’un chapitre à l’autre.  C’est tout à fait génial de raconter des moments historiques ressentis et vécus par des femmes qui ont su transmettre le sens d’appartenance à la race acadienne de génération en génération.         

 

 

J’ai appris beaucoup de choses en faisant la lecture de Severine que je ne connaissais pas, telles le séjour de plusieurs Acadiens et Acadiennes sur l’Île de St-Pierre et Miquelon entre autres.  La lecture fut un délice qui une fois commencée je n’ai pu arrêter; je l’ai lu en deux jours.  Comme le livre est bien écrit, que l’histoire nous fait vivre un moment important de notre passé et fait le lien tout de même avec notre réalité contemporaine, j’ai pensé qu’il pourrait être très utile aux étudiants du niveau secondaire surtout vers la fin de leurs études.                     

 

 

Have just finished reading your novel Severine.  I could hardly put it down.  It was a magnificent story.  I compliment you on your accomplishment.  I can’t believe you pinpointed the attitudes of the Church so neatly.  Anyone who grew up in a Catholic community knows what it was like.  Thank you for telling it like it was and, sometimes, still is.  You certainly made me feel as though I was part of that exiled group who suffered so much but still managed to get back to their country, if not to their own old homesteads.                                                      

 

Although I am (Acadian) from another generation, I could relate to several references in Severine that touched on aspects of my own identity, such as Sevvie’s stone spine, her reaction when crossing the Canso Strait, her feeling different from the Acadians ‘down home’ but still wanting to think of herself as Acadian.  Also, the strength of the Acadian women that the author portrays reminds me of all the strong women in my own Acadian family.

                                                                            

 

 

I was able to connect mentally and emotionally with each character, whether it was Severine or old Martin.  Gender seemed to play no role, even though the lives of the Acadians certainly dictated a woman’s place.  How clever of the author.  The conversations were quite refreshing, no inane words or cramped series of thoughts, she cut right to the chase.

 

 

 

Published by Shoreline Press
ISBN: 978-1-896754-57-4
228 pages

E-book versions published by Smashwords
ISBN: 9780969513421

Availability:

Printed copies versions of Severine can be ordered from the author by emailing cassie@cassiecohoon.com

E-book editions in several formats can be previewed and purchased at
Smashwords,  as well as through the Sony,  Barnes & Noble, Kobo,  Apple, Diesel, and Baker and Taylor sites.