The Last Exile

Charles Durham, Author Ballantine Books $23 (448p) ISBN 978-0-345-35495-2
This well-researched, expansive first novel moves at a leisurely pace through 18th-century France and Canada. Gabriel Dublanche, born in Normandy in 1715, inherits the ``rambunctious curiosity'' of his mother and the ``unusually tender'' character of his blacksmith father--a combination that proves dangerous. A student in Paris, he recklessly attempts to stop a public execution but is silenced by a more prudent onlooker (the father of a beautiful young woman, Celeste, whom Gabriel will later marry). His faith in God is cracked by witnessing this barbarity, and finally shatters when his friend Michel is murdered. Gabriel's subsequent thirst for revenge devastates his own family, causing an accident that destroys Celeste's sanity and brings Gabriel to Canada, where his own crimes force him to flee those he loves. He takes refuge with an Indian community, and only the devotion of two women renews his belief in God. Narrowly avoiding the didactic or maudlin, Durham's tale warmly embraces old-fashioned values and morals. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/11/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-345-37382-3
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