The Hanging of Angelique
The history of Canadian black slavery is a story quite often untold. The Hanging of Angelique opens the doors to the unknown. After fifteen years of research, Afua Cooper brings to light the “untold story of Canadian slavery and the burning of Old Montreal”.
Cooper weaves together crucial historical facts that are often unspoken, and similar to the many stories that Americans have heard over time. The sad and intricate life of a black woman who, at only 29 years young, was full of despair and discovered a longing within herself to be set free. But at what cost? After a catastrophic fire was set to old Montreal, Marie Joseph Angelique, a Portuguese black slave, was accused of setting the fire.
Cooper leaves the ending unspoken: “Did Angelique set the fire? Your guess is as good as mine.” But her intricately detailed research tells the story for her. It’s the writing of Cooper that is pleasantly appeasing as you dive deep into a historical conundrum of right versus wrong.
The detailed filled story offers a new look into the life of Angelique and gives readers a well defined idea of exactly what slavery was like in Canada in 1734. It allows the reader to see a glimpse of the life that Angelique struggled with on daily basis and leaves the unspoken whisper in the back of your mind: Did she do it? What would I do?
Cooper tells the story of a woman who refused to fit into the role that has been chiseled for her and her sad demise while creating the big picture that shows what exactly it meant to be a black slave woman in Canada.
Considered to be the “oldest slave narrative in the New World,” The Hanging of Angelique will leave you with a saddened and somber idea of what a black Canadian woman’s place was at that time, and the lack of identity that you were free to call your own. Cooper gently nudges the readers through the novel and as you turn the final page, you’ll feel the oppressive hands of slavery around your ankles, slowly pulling you underwater until the light has completely dimmed.