This week, let's meet with the two characters on which the entire novel hinges: Isabelle Fontaine and her ancestor, Celeste. These two relatives are separated by 100 years, but connected by a mysterious murder.
Isabelle Fontaine is a professional pianist, a celebrity in her native country of Canada. She is alluring with fair features, dark hair and fine French attire. She has inherited the Fontaine estate across the river in the city of Detroit in America; the house is one of the last great estates when the city was under French rule in the 1700s. Isabelle is glad to go to the city to claim the house, because she wants to get away from her life in Canada for some reason. Isabelle has an uncanny resemblance to her ancestor, Celeste. Little does she know, but she may not leave the Fontaine alive.
Celeste, Isabelle's ancestor, is a stunning beauty who died 100 years before at the Fontaine. She was the property, an engage, of Sieur Bennet Fontaine, the owner of Maison Fontaine, one of the houses along the Detroit River deeded to colonists from France by Detroit's founder, Cadillac. Despite her being a slave, Celeste is a talented piano player (taught by Bennet) and captures the eye of Bennet's son, Louis. Celeste and Louis share one passionate summer, but Celeste is troubled by her position as the family slave. Louis is obsessed with Celeste and is defiant when Bennet tells him he must leave Celeste alone and enter into an arranged marriage with Briane from Montreal. Louis eventually agrees to marry Briane for the sake of a financial alliance, but he is determined to also have Celeste as his own.
Celeste realizes her mistake in caring for a man who owns her, and wants to be free of the relationship. Enraged, Louis turns into a violent captor. In the meantime, a mysterious slave is brought to the Fontaine estate to save it. His name is Jacques, and he is like no other man. Strong and proud, Jacques is a master boat builder from the Seychelles Islands. The minute Celeste and he lock glances, they fall deeply in love. Later, this love will be their undoing, but also their salvation.
Sharon's Question of the Week:
For those of you who have read Dark River, what did you think about Bennet as both Celeste's "Pere" and owner?