Once again the magnificent writing skills of Anne and Serge Golon make for a wonderful story of adventure and intrigue set in the New World of the seventeenth century, early pioneering days. From descriptions of beautiful lakes, wild ocean, virgin forests and the ever increasing presence of hostilities from different sectors, setbacks and miscommunications which seemed to beset Angelique and her husband, Joffrey de Peyrac, “The Temptation of Angelique” is an unusual story, yet fascinating and so inspiring.
The characters of the novel as ever breathe real life into the story and imaginings on the pages of a not so distant time in our recent past. Joffrey de Peyrac, ever so noble and serene at one time did lose patience with Angelique and he along with many other people of the community of Gouldsboro believed the worst of Angelique, which was unfortunate for Angelique. Angelique, as ever determined, and not about to be displaced from her position by the prejudices and judgements of others continued with her work of rememdies for the ailing, seemingly unperturbed by the course of events.Angelique had been looking forward to the summer at Gouldsboro.
As events panned out, the summer season was not as Angelique had imagined. Joffrey and Angelique had been separated. Angelique was believed to have succumbed to the attentions of Goldbeard when she was taken aboard his yacht. Goldbeard was previously Colin Paturel, King of the Slaves, from Angelique’s time when she had been a captive at the Sultan’s harem in the Mediterranean. “Angelique in Barbary” or by another title of “Angelique and the Sultan” describes in vivid detail the adventures of Angelique at the Sultan’s harem at Meknes. This book is full of wonder, marvellous surprises and is also interspersed with the ancient wisdom and philosophies of the Sultan’s chief advisor and Grand Eunuch, who held a special place in Angelique’s heart as she befriended this man during her time as a captive and benefitted from his friendship. Colin Paturel had been a life saver for Angelique at the time, had journeyed through the desert with her and his place as King of the Slaves during their ordeal had signified to her his own hardships in captivity and strengthened a special bond with Angelique. However, this bond certainly was tested in this story and it was unfortunate for Angelique that many of the Huguenots, who had previously been her friends, believed unsubstantiated rumours. Angelique’s innocence is eventually established, and Angelique hopes to heal the rift with her husband concerning such matters. The bond with her husband, Joffrey, was found to be the stronger and Angelique realised her great love for Joffrey.
Colin Paturel, King of the Slaves, had been Angelique’s devoted friend in the desert at a time when the scorching sun of the Moroccan desert beat relentlessly down upon them and they journeyed far for their freedom. By the quick witted actions of Colin Paturel, Angelique had survived a venomous snake bite.
Joffrey de Peyrac was Angelique’s soul mate. From the moment when she believed that there was a glimmer of hope of finding him again, Angelique had been on a quest to find her beloved husband. It was this very quest which had brought her to the shores of the Mediterranean in the first place. Joffrey de Peyrac, in his nobility, showing his strength of character at an uncertain time in his life, as regards Angelique, promoted Goldbeard to the position of Governor of the province. This was quite unexpected, but also clearly within his keen character and judgement skills. He recognised Goldbeard’s many talents, that Goldbeard was at one with the people, whereas, he himself, he reflected, may hold the people fascinated but he was not one of them as Goldbeard was. Colin Paturel, arriving in the guise of Goldbeard, the pirate, was officially in the New World on the king’s business and was commissioned to set up a colony in the area.
There was also Jack Merwin, the Jesuit priest, whom Angelique befriended, another person whom Angelique had to accept as with a changed identity from the dour and surly sea captain, who had saved her life in the ocean; also countless other individuals whom Angelique respected and admired as she journeyed to meet her husband again. I am constantly amazed by the twists and turns of plot and the unexpected and often unpredictable happenings and often unpredictable characters in the Angelique series of books. It was a harsh time in history and often the story does reflect some of these harsh aspects of life at the time, their joys and sorrows. Also the goodness which always does shine through of Angelique and her husband, attempting to relocate a little girl with her family, always trying to be peace-makers amongst the diverse elements of society, understanding a different culture and way of life, their humanity and compassion for fellow pioneers in this unsettled land of wide horizons and great opportunity.
This book certainly was different and almost of another genre from the previous Angelique books as there was the unexpected arrival of Goldbeard in perhaps a moment of Angelique’s uncertainty and weakness and with also the difficulties which Angelique had to resolve with her husband. It was uncanny and so unexpected for Angelique to be faced with a person from her other life in another place in the New World where she was now living with her children and reunited with her husband, Joffrey de Peyrac. The writers describe these events with empathy and beauty. Joffrey de Peyrac plays a significant role in this story, not always to Angelique’s liking, though he became unsettled, believed Angelique had destroyed everything, and was most likely relieved to finally realise that Angelique was innocent. The love which Angelique has for her husband, Joffrey, and the love which Joffrey has for Angelique is something beautiful and their love story is quite magical in the books. Love over the years, even though they were separated, had brought them together again and this is a wonderful component of the story, the romance and adventures of Angelique and Joffrey. My best wishes