adventure novels about french trappers/explorers in america
October 14, 2013 9:58 AM   Subscribe

This is a long shot. When I was a wee child in the 70s, I remember reading an old adventure novel about a French explorer in the 1700s or 1800s, having adventures in the American wilderness, making allies with native americans, living off the fat of the land, escaping from British soldiers, etc. It was written in English though I suppose it could have been a translation. Anyone have any ideas as to title or author?
posted by jak68 to Media & Arts (14 answers total)
I don't know if he was the source for the novel you read, but for what it's worth, John James Audubon's story has many similarities.
posted by argonauta at 10:10 AM on October 14, 2013

I didn't read the book, but I saw the movie. It's sort of like what you're describing.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:12 AM on October 14, 2013

Actually, scratch that. Black Robe wasn't written until 1985.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:14 AM on October 14, 2013

This is tickling a memory for me, but damn if I can remember the author I'm thinking of! Was it part of a series about John Fraser by chance, and/or set in and around western PA, Ohio, WV, KY, and maybe Tennessee? I want to say the author's last name was Wallace. I had to read these in my high school anthropology class, and they were very good, I distinctly remember plowing through them as fast as I could. The main character was very tall, a woodsman, and maybe had red hair. Might have been named Jamie, too....anything like that ring a bell?

I was also thinking of some other characters...Mike Fink was a really popular character for a while, and I think Zane Grey was a popular frontier-themed author.

Let us know if you figure it out!
posted by cardinality at 10:53 AM on October 14, 2013

The Refugees: A Tale of Two Continents (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) ... volume 2 has many of these elements....
posted by RedEmma at 1:01 PM on October 14, 2013

Not sure about that particular book, but I liked Carry the Wind when I was younger. Not a French trapper though I don't think. But a trapper, and talking about Ronny Voo (Rendez Vous), trading, trapping, almost getting scalped, that sort of thing.
posted by bluesky78987 at 9:46 PM on October 14, 2013

Davy Crockett?
posted by W.S (disambiguation) at 11:16 PM on October 14, 2013

Forty Years a Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri: The Personal Narrative of Charles Larpenteur, 1833-1872 sounds like it might fit. Another shot might be Journal of a Trapper, but with less Frenchness.

The Big Sky is one of the more canonical examples of fiction.
posted by dhartung at 3:00 AM on October 15, 2013

I grew up in Minnesota and read a ton of this stuff -- so naturally I can't put my finger on any one title. :7)

If you can't find what you're looking for, try some of the recent YA books by William Durbin including The Broken Blade and its sequel Wintering. They are about a young boy who joins a voyageur company, and they're great reading: my smart boys enjoyed them around age 9, and I loved them, too.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2013

(Durbin has worked in other historical eras as well; see a sample at his web site
posted by wenestvedt at 11:36 AM on October 15, 2013

It sounds like Altsheler to me. Lots of backwoodsmen, kentucky riflemen, and the like.
posted by mearls at 7:56 PM on October 15, 2013

Sorry, Altsheler.
posted by mearls at 8:16 PM on October 15, 2013

The Canadians of Old?
posted by bricoleur at 11:30 AM on November 7, 2013

Response by poster: Sorry I got back to this late. Just wanted to thank you all for the leads.

Cardinality - what you describe sounds about right - tall lone woodman, possibly red hair, and I think fur trapping may have been a part of the story as well.

I also remember plowing thru these books as an 8 or 9 year old. They were great fun.

I'll look up everything mentioned here. Thanks again!
posted by jak68 at 8:55 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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