The year is 1738. Jacques Lafargue, a wide-eyed young Frenchman, arrives in New France aboard the Saint Michel. But before his Canadian adventure has a chance to begin, he is detained at Quebec harbour by suspicious port officials. Their distrust proves warranted: instead of a young man named Jacques Lafargue their captive turns out to be a young woman named Esther Brandeau, and instead of answers to their questions about who she is and where she came from, they are given tales of castaways raised by apes, of blind lovelorn sailors and merciless pirates, of runaway slaves and kindly desert nomads, and of other curiosities in a limitless world.
Few suspect the truth: Esther is a Jew, which by law prohibits her from entering New France, and she is using her tale-telling to escape the restrictions placed upon her race and gender. And no one – not even Esther herself – realizes the power her stories have to open their hearts and minds to old dreams and new possibilities.
The Tale-Teller is a marvel. Susan Glickman takes readers on a journey of discovery – starting with the fascinating true story of an obscure historical figure, and continuing through an intimate and richly-detailed portrait of Canadian colonial society, guided always by a map of wonders – to reveal timeless truths.