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"Charlotte Temple" by Susanna Rowson

Charlotte Temple may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog.

"Oh!" said Mrs. Temple, "I would if possible fly to her, support and cheer the dear sufferer in the approaching hour of distress, and tell her how nearly penitence is allied to virtue. Cannot we go and conduct her home, my love?"
--Lucy Temple (Charlotte’s mother) in Charlotte Temple

"What on earth have I done?" Certainly you have had that feeling at least once in your life. The choice you made may have seemed right at the time; perhaps even the only choice. But later, the consequences of your actions spread out before you like a spider web with a frightening array of repercussions. Worse, you may have had very few options for making amends. Youth, impetuousness and inexperience, along with a fierce amount of peer pressure could all conspire to bring about such a predicament. It wasn’t until I read Charlotte Temple that I realized how great the consequences could be for a naive young woman during the years surrounding the American Revolution.

Charlotte Temple’s story starts out in England, where the fifteen-year-old Charlotte is attending boarding school. Charlotte is an exuberant, well-behaved girl, a devoted daughter, and a dedicated student. Her parents and grandparents have suffered many deprivations but have risen above their circumstances to give Charlotte a loving home and a life full of promise. Charlotte is a model student, and is proving to be everything her family had hoped for.

Charlotte’s innocence made her an easy target for her more worldly suitor, Montraville, and her scheming teacher, Mademoiselle La Rue, the latter of whom convinces her to sneak off campus several times to meet with the young man. Montraville cuts a dashing figure in his British lieutenant’s uniform and Charlotte is not immune to his charms, but she makes an effort to do the right thing and vows not to meet with him again. La Rue, however, convinces her to see him “one last time.” At this “last meeting” Montraville convinces Charlotte to go with him when he ships out for the American front. Thus he, Charlotte, La Rue and Montraville’s friend, Belcour, board a ship and sail to the colonies.

It is only when she arrives in America that Charlotte sees the full impact of her predicament. She realizes that her companions are not as ingenuous as she, and that Montraville has no intention of marrying her. Although he is carrying his child, he abandons her telling Belcour to look after her, a trust Belcour is unable to fulfill due to his incessant drinking. Charlotte’s struggle to survive and the roles played by her three companions in furthering her misery comprise a morality tale with frightening consequences, both for Charlotte and the engineers of her downfall.

Cover art by Janice Tarver, for sale at etsy.


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