A family saga spanning seven generations—from a colonial-era sugar plantation to Civil Rights-era Philadelphia—an intimate portrayal of survival and triumph, love and resilience, with touches of magical realism.
Born in the 1700s and enslaved on the Caribbean Island of Martinique, young Abeje and her brother Adunbi owe their survival to their uncommon abilities and to the kindness of fellow bondsmen. After Adunbi’s daughter is taken away to Canada she becomes emancipated in Quebec City; grandchildren find their way in Montreal, a great-grandchild escapes persecution to Philadelphia, and another risks everything to pursue music in New York City. As each new member of the family takes the spotlight, a fresh piece of the puzzle is illuminated until at last, a homecoming uplifts them all. Following the echoes between generations which defy normal space and time, a multilayered narrative celebrates the Rougeaux family triumphs while exposing the injustices of their trials.
March 4, 2021 by Black Rose Writing
Winner of a Silver Medal in Historical Fiction from the Independent Book Publishers Association, Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, 2019.
Named one of Bitch Media’s “25 Must-Read Books of 2018
Abeje and Adunbi live on a sugar plantation on the island of Martinique with their enslaved mother. While she tries to protect them from the horrors inflicted on enslaved people, they’re left to fend for themselves after she dies. The siblings must lean on each other to survive, and in this masterful novel, Jenny Jaeckel explores how their support and sacrifices influence their family for generations. Much like Homegoing, House of Rougeaux is an intergenerational novel that uses different characters to travel through decades of turmoil and triumphs.
An extraordinary novel by a master of narrative-driven storytelling...
--Midwest Book Review
Jaeckel’s graceful prose and clear purpose make this an excellent addition to historical novels about the French Caribbean.
A wonderful read.
—Historical Novel Review
Read this one with a box of tissues, because every other page will move you to tears.
Fine brushstrokes bring the writing to life, capturing the scent of wood smoke and sun-dried grass, or a box of rose candies that symbolizes choice…. The book achieves a resonance that lingers long after its plot points are forgotten. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the book is that in spite of the inescapable presence of slavery and prejudice, it isn’t really about either of these. Jenny Jaeckel’s House of Rougeaux is about people--varied and fully realized individuals who make a flawed world of their own.
Actor Turpin’s skill with a vast array of accents brings the characters of Jaeckel’s multigenerational novel to life...Turpin’s cool, clear voice fluidly takes the listener from place to place, and her accent switches seamlessly from Caribbean to French to English to American Southern, giving each character a distinct and authentic voice. Turpin’s multifaceted performance enhances this rich tapestry of a novel.
—Publishers Weekly (Audiobook review)
Abeje and Adunbi are the progenitors of two centuries of heroes and heroines who deal courageously with the circumstance they face in varying time periods in Canada and the U.S. Each poignantly and personally reflects the issues of his or her era—for example, racism and gender prejudices. Turpin's facility with accents and characterizations gives listeners a sense of these shifting time periods and the continuity that comes from generations of treasured family stories.
—AudioFile (Audiobook review)
I love the detailed POVs and how all the woven narratives came together at the end. It’s a great story about family, race, and the folklore (my favorite part) all mixed into each character’s coming of age story!
—Life of A Female Bibliophile
I’m about 20 pages into this beautiful book and am entranced by the lyrical language!
I finished ‘House of Rougeaux’ a couple of days ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting each member of the Rougeaux family and getting to be a witness to their lives. From the matriarch Iya, who was taken from Africa and brought to Martinique to a great-granddaughter who had to run away to NYC and found success as a musician. I found every member of this family to be extraordinary. Nearing the end of the book I didn’t want to leave them. I carried their stories with me while I read the book and after. The writing pulled me in within the first 5 pages and continued to surprise and move me. Jenny Jaeckel weaved such an incredible story and family history.
With beautiful writing that easily flows from one family member to the next I almost felt as if I were reading a documentary if that makes sense? The descendants of Adunbi and Abeje are highlighted in different sections (or episodes) yet there is always a common underlying thread binding things together. If you're a fan of historical fiction I'd definitely recommend checking this one out…
The different generations of the family all face pain and losses, but overall the book offers a sense of hope and survival. Becoming free does not end their troubles. At times, they redefine the meaning of family...I gladly recommend this book for readers who welcome another version of what it has meant to be Black in North America.
—Me, You, And Books
House of Rougeaux is a spellbinding, heartbreaking, heartwarming account of the Rougeaux family. And if you like stories of hope and love, this is the one for you.
—The Melodramatic Bookworm
I rather liked this approach. It's very much the way we learn our own family history, with this great aunt telling us about one journey, a grandmother filling us in with stories of her childhood, another bit learned from a document--all coming at different times, out of order, leaving us to piece together what we can.
—Reading is not the Challenge
House of Rougeaux is a fascinating family saga. Jaeckel does a great job weaving history into her story.
—Tonstant Weader Review