Madeleine Takes Command
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Madeleine Takes Command
Author: Ethel C. Brill
Major Themes: Canada, Frontier Life, Indians
Synopsis: When the family’s fort in New France is besieged by Indians in 1692, 14-year-old Madeleine must take command to protect those who were inside in this true story.
I first read Madeleine Takes Command several years ago when my daughter read it for school. Now, my boys are in the same level of history, and I read it aloud to them. We had recently read a very brief mention of this story in our history book; this is a very-much fleshed-out version of a true story. Ethel Brill has done a superb job of bringing a historical event to life.
Madeleine is only 14 years old, but living in New France, as Canada was then called, forced people to grow up quickly. When her mother had to go to Montreal on business, taking the youngest children in the family with her, Madeleine and her two brothers, just younger than herself, were left in charge of the family’s home—a fort along the St. Lawrence River. All has been quiet for some time, but they know that at any time the Mohawks might attack—and within a day or two, they do.
What can the Vercheres young people do? There are three of them and one old soldier who is loyal, but the two other soldiers left after the garrison was captured while out hunting prove cowardly. The lives of many women and children are at stake; can the tiny band defend the fort against the hordes of Indians? And when another family takes refuge at the fort, will the terrified wife be able to persuade her husband to flee—into sure death?
You will find this story gripping, and will not want to stop reading until you learn the outcome. As each night of the siege approaches, the danger grows—will this be the night the attack comes? We really enjoyed the story, but at the same time we had questions about what a true follower of Jesus would have done in this situation. In Matthew 5, we are told to not resist evil, and not to kill. Madeleine and her brothers were quite willing to kill the Mohawks to save their own lives, but was that what Jesus wants us to do? We had a good discussion about these issues as we read the book.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15
Links to buy Madeleine Takes Command:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback
Keywords: Canada, Frontier Life, Indians