A World of His Own is an enjoyable historical novel set in New Orleans in the early 1800s. The novel spans a few years and centers around the life of Andre Raphael de Javon, an ambitious and handsome Frenchman who comes to America in order to become one of the richest plantation owners in Louisiana.
The story begins when he’s just arrived by ship to New Orleans in the company of his friend Charles, who’s spent the last six years studying in Europe. Charles comes from a prestigious family in the city and he soon invites Andre to stay with them until he can find a place of his own.
From the beginning Andre shows great ambition. He wants to invest his money wisely and prosper, though he doesn’t know how at first. When he decides to become a plantation owner, his friend Charles introduces him to someone who can advise him — a generous, successful man by the name of Jean-Claude. At about this time, Andre meets Gabrielle, a gorgeous yet possessive and selfish young woman who’s set on marrying him at all costs. Like any normal man, Andre is deeply attracted to Gabrielle, even though he knows she’s not the right woman for him. In spite of this, he ends up marrying her, no doubt tempted by her handsome dowry which will help him achieve his dreams.
As Andre’s plantation grows and he gets wealthier, his marriage becomes increasingly turbulent and Gabrielle more and more unstable. Andre’s pain is deepened by the fact that he’s secretly fallen in love with Jean-Claude’s daughter, a young beauty who’s been infatuated with Andre since the tender age of 11. Thus, we follow Andre’s ups and downs and his hellish marriage as he becomes the wealthy owner of a plantation.
I have a lot of good things to say about A World of His Own. The early nineteenth century come to life under the author’s pen. There are many interesting, informative passages about the Creole culture, slave ownership, the running of a plantation, the food, clothes, etc. Though it took me a while to connect with Andre, once I did I really was hooked and wanted to know how the story ended, and whether or not he would at last find happiness. So the plot’ though pretty much a love story, kept me turning pages until I finished the book. At times, though, the pace dragged a bit due to redundant phrases, unnecessary description, and too much ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing.’ I also think the character of Gabrielle could have used more depth, as she comes across as the stereotype of an ‘evil beauty’ throughout much of the book.
But, as I said, the author made me care for Andre and his situation enough for me to want to keep reading and finish the book. It was an entertaining, interesting read.