Elise Dallemagne-Cookson (1933-2005)
Cherry Valley, NY

Book Reviews

The following books have been reviewed:

The Bearded Lion Who Roars (1995)

Critic Cleveland Moffett writes in The Bulletin - the English language news magazine of Europe - "Of books about the Congo, its glorious and sordid history, many, if not most of them, are sentimental, self-serving, ideological or dishonest, and then, every so often, along comes a remarkable exception. Room on this short shelf of worthwhile writing about the dark heart of African must now be found for The Bearded Lion Who Roars by Elise Dallemagne-Cookson. No disguised diary or collection of letters home, which so much colonial writing is, The Bearded Lion Who Roars is written with literary flair. This gutsy and resourceful young woman from upstate New York knows how to set a scene, how to describe what she sees and feels, to report accurately what is happening when her world starts to fall apart. It is easy to write what is conventionally called a "powerful" book about the Congo. Many people have done it. The outbreak of violence, the panic, the massacres and rapes, the United Nations sending in troops, make exciting reading. What Elise Dallemagne-Cookson has done is to tell us how it was, the impossible happiness and the inevitable reckoning, and she makes us believe every word."

A Kliatt critic agreed: "The talented author makes the diverse countryside and its people come alive. The reader will become engrossed with the characters and their unique existence. The dangers involved in the Belgians' forced evacuation are vividly recounted and make exciting reading."

The Ombu Tree (1998)

The Library Journal says, "This lyrical novel has an almost other-worldly quality to it, and the author successfully maintains the reader's interest throughout the unusual tale."

Ines Pardal writing in the Buenos Aires Herald lauded Dallemagne-Cookson's attention to detail, noting that the work, "should be widely praised for its verisimilitude, which bespeaks a loving care for this long-suffering land."

The Filmmaker (2000)

In its review, the Buenos Aires Herald lauded Dallemagne-Cookson's handling of "one of the most controversial, fascinating film/book subjects from 20th century U.S. life."



Red-Eye Fever (2002)

In the June 5, 2002, issue of The Bulletin, the newsweekly of the Capital of Europe, Brussels, Belgium, Cleveland Moffett writes, "The Red-Eye Fever, Adventures in the Belgian Congo," is a memoir by Elise Dallemagne-Cookson of her life in the Congo on a Foreign Service assignment that lasted from 1959 to the eve of the colony's independence a year later. Dallemagne-Cookson tells what sounds like a very tall story about crocodile hunting with convincing relish. She had not been long at her new job when she accepted the challenge to take a plunge into the jungle to track down the formidable 175-year-old crocodile El Diablo. The sassy young New Yorker takes him on and lives to tell the tale. The cover photograph shows her with a gun in one hand, and her foot on El Diablo's scaly back.

"Not for her the local zoo. "'A zoo? Here?' I was incredulous. 'The whole place is a zoo. The entire country.'" But her guide explains that 'most of the Belgians living in Leopoldville never get out into the countryside. They're too scared.' So by going to the zoo they can get to see at least a gorilla or two, a lion and a few monkeys before they leave for home."

Writer's Digest, who has selected "The Red-Eye Fever" for its 2003 Book Award, Life Stories category says "...More than just a tale of a crocodile hunt, it ("The Red-Eye Fever") is a peek at a slice of time now gone. The look at the Congo as it stood on the verge of independence makes for fascinating reading. The author also wisely focuses her story, just dealing with her stay in the Congo. This narrowing of the topic adds power to the story. The writing reflects sensitivity and thoughtfulness, with the author providing example stories, dialogue and rich details to illustrate the general point that she is making. In looking at the style of writing, it is clear that this author has a talent for telling stories. The look of the book is also compelling, tying in with the idea of life in another time."

Marie Grandin - Sent by the King (2003)

Carl Waldman, author of Atlas of the North American Indian says: "Dallemagne-Cookson took me to another world and I feel I have a much stronger sense of early Canada and historical events...along with Marie Grandin and other historical figures. The author rose to the challenge of giving the reader a sense of what life really might have been like back then. The characters are intriguing and compelling."

John Tebbel, renown historian and author of The Battle for North America, says: "In her fifth book, a sweeping historical novel, Elise Dallemagne-Cookson takes us into the world of French Canada, where explorers, adventurers, churchmen, and settlers live in a world of constant struggle, destined not to end until England emerges triumphant in the Seven Years' War. We see all this through the eyes of Marie Grandin, whose tangled life begins in 1668 in Orleans, France, where a talented young girl flees a broken romance to go to Canada. There she finds love, war, Indians, adventurers, and friends like La Salle, the great explorer of the American interior, and Count Frontenac, among many others. It's a tale of high adventure and romance, told against a backdrop that is one of the most fascinating chapters in North American history. And Marie herself is an unforgettable heroine."

Juliana L'Heureux comments "Written as if it were a diary, Dallemagne-Cookson begins the story in 1670, when the heroine Grandin is sailing from La Rochelle, France aboard the ship Helene de Flessinge. Extensive research helped Dallegmagne-Cookson describe the details of daily life in colonial New France portrayed throughout the novel’s attractive plot. Building on her family’s oral traditions learned while growing up in Peekskill, New York, Dallemagne-Cookson even spins a ghost story in her heroine’s plot, probably for the entertainment value but also because the French settlers, like many other colonials, were inclined to believe supernatural phenomenon.".

Read the full article.

Marie Grandin - Fille du Roi (2005)

Louis-Guy Lemieux, columnist with Le Soleil in Quebec City wrote a review describing the book and its recent release. The book was released at the annual meeting of the Beaudet Association on a day cruise on the St- Lawrence river on August 27, 2005.

Read the review article (in French).

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Last updated: December 8, 2005