Born in 1805 on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was the son of the expedition's translators, Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau. Across the Endless River compellingly portrays this mixed-blood child's mysterious boyhood along the Missouri among the Mandan tribe and his youth as William Clark's ward in St. Louis. The novel becomes a haunting exploration of identity and passion as eighteen-year-old Baptiste is invited to cross the Atlantic in 1823 with young Duke Paul of Württemberg.
During their travels throughout Europe, Paul introduces Baptiste to a world he never imagined. Gradually, Baptiste senses the limitations of life as an outsider. His passionate affair with Paul's older cousin helps him understand the richness of his heritage and the need to fashion his own future. But it is Maura, the beautiful and independent daughter of a French-Irish wine merchant Baptiste meets in Paris, who most influences his ultimate decision to return to the frontier.
Rich in the details of life in both frontier America and the European court, Across the Endless River is a captivating novel about a man at the intersection of cultures, languages, and customs.
Thad likes history. You can tell by this book. At times it felt just too informative to be a novel, but it was always interesting. Sadly it didn’t hold my attention very long. I got about halfway through it before I just couldn’t read it anymore. Personally I’m disappointed that I didn’t like it more, because I’ve always loved the time period, culture, and adventures of the characters and the themes in this story. The pacing was too slow to keep me going.
I really liked the characters in the story, but since we live such different lives there were a lot of foreign concepts shown in them—like the Indian’s coming-of-age process for the boys, the hunts, what they lived through etc. that there were times I thought “What must that be like?” and couldn’t really imagine it. There isn’t much description of what the characters felt, only what happened.
Thad Carhart tells the beautiful story of Jean Baptiste, son of Sacajawea. He has obviously done a lot of research, and the story is full of accurate historical facts. However, it doesn’t feel like reading a history book—it feels like reading poetry. Thad is a good writer.
How can I give a book I didn’t finish a 4-star rating? Because the part that I did read was good and I liked it a lot. I recommend it to ages 16+. However it wasn’t really for me.