In 1805 while making her cross-country journey with Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea gave birth to her son with Toussaint Charbonneau, Baptiste, known affectionately by his family as Pompy. Baptiste made the journey with the group across the country all the way to California, the first of his long travels and adventures.
This is the beginning of Thad Carhart’s historical fiction novel Across the Endless River.
Being of two different cultures, Baptiste moves between the two easily, but never feels fully embraced by either. When he is of school-age, rather than stay with his mother’s tribe, he is sent to St. Louis to attend school, returning to the tribe during the summer months, learning the language and ways of the tribe.
Once he is older and working with the fur traders on the Missouri River, a chance encounter with Duke Paul of Wurttemberg, who is in the U.S. to learn about the tribes, animals and plant-life, changes the course of Baptiste’s life. While Baptiste is leading Duke Paul on the river, the Duke sees the potential of Baptiste given his knowledge of many languages and the Native American culture, and asks Baptiste to accompany him back to Europe and help him catalog his artifacts and explain Native American culture and history as Duke Paul writes his book on the frontier.
Baptiste accepts his offer, and the reader is taken through Europe in the 1820s and beyond, through Baptiste’s eyes as he crossed the Endless River (the Atlantic) and experiences, among many things, life in upper class and aristocratic Europe. Being a young man, Baptiste does not spend all his time exploring his environs and working with Duke Paul – he meets a young woman when he arrives in France, Maura, with a colorful life of her own; and also spend much time with the Duke’s cousin Theresa, who is older than Baptiste and helps to teach him about the world in which he has come to live.
While turning the pages of this book, I felt that I was there on the Missouri, sailing across the Atlantic, walking through the streets of Paris. Carhart’s writing is very descriptive, sometimes almost too much. But even when the descriptions got a little long for me, it never diminished my enjoyment of this story or its characters.
I received this book for review from FSB Associates.
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