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Folger Book Club: Daughters of the Deer

In our March session, we look at author Danielle Daniel’s imagined lives of her ancestors in the Algonquin territories of the 1600s.

Booking and details

Dates & Tickets

Dates Thu, Mar 7, 2024, 6:30pm

Venue Folger Virtual

Tickets Free, Registration required

Duration 6:30pm - 8:00pm (ET)

Our March 2024 Pick

Daughters of the Deer
by Danielle Daniel

In this haunting, groundbreaking, historical novel, Danielle Daniel imagines the lives of her ancestors in the Algonquin territories of the 1600s, a story inspired by her family link to a girl murdered near Trois-Rivières in the early days of French settlement.

Marie, an Algonquin woman of the Weskarini Deer Clan, lost her first husband and her children to an Iroquois raid. In the aftermath of another lethal attack, her chief begs her to remarry for the sake of the clan. Marie is a healer who honours the ways of her people, and Pierre, the green-eyed ex-soldier from France who wants her for his bride, is not the man she would choose. But her people are dwindling, wracked by white men’s diseases and nearly starving every winter as the game retreats away from the white settlements. If her chief believes such a marriage will cement their alliance with the French against the Iroquois and the British, she feels she has no choice. Though she does it reluctantly, and with some fear–Marie is trading the memory of the man she loved for a man she doesn’t understand at all, and whose devout Catholicism blinds him to the ways of her people.

This beautiful, powerful novel brings to life women who have literally fallen through the cracks of settler histories. Especially Jeanne, the first child born of the new marriage, neither white nor Weskarini, but caught between worlds. As she reaches adolescence, it becomes clear she is two-spirited. In her mother’s culture, she would have been considered blessed, her nature a sign of special wisdom. But to the settlers of New France, and even to her own father, Jeanne is unnatural, sinful–a woman to be shunned, and worse.

And so, with the poignant story of Jeanne, Danielle Daniel imagines her way into the heart and mind of a woman at the origin of the long history of violence against Indigenous women and the deliberate, equally violent, disruption of First Nations culture–opening a door long jammed shut, so all of us can enter.

Why did we choose this?

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s collection explores not only Shakespeare’s life and works, but also the plays’ historical context, source material, critical and performance histories, and the ways in which they inspire and are adapted by contemporary novelists.

Daughters of the Deer takes place in the late 17th century, when the Americas were being colonized by Europeans, forever changing the lives of those already living on the land. This novel allows to consider how Danielle Daniel uses her own family to explore this historical moment and consider whose stories are missing from the narrative.

About the Book Club

Our informal Book Club is free and open to all. Our picks range from historical fiction to adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, encompassing a wide variety of genres—all sourced from a different local, independent bookstore partner each month.

Each session begins with a guest speaker exploring that month’s pick and highlighting items from the Folger collection related to the plot and themes of the novel. After the presentation, participants will be broken into smaller groups for breakout discussions, moderated by a team of staff and volunteers.

Content transparency

Daughters of the Deer includes potentially sensitive subjects. Expand below for a full list of content.

We would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support of this program

Capitol Hill Community Foundation
Junior League of Washington