A sweeping epic in the vein of Philipp Meyers The Son and Min Jin Lees Pachinko and inspired by a true story this stunning US literary debut captures the never-before-told journey of the Baleine Brides: a ship full of young women plucked from a Paris asylum and sent to marry settlers in North Americas rough Louisiana Territory. Paris 1720. La Salpetriere hospital is in crisis: too many occupants not enough beds. Halfway across the world Frances colony in the wilds of North America has space to spare and needs families to fill it. So the director of the hospital rounds up nearly a hundred female volunteers of childbearing age--orphans prisoners and mental patients--to be shipped to New Orleans. Among this group are three unlikely friends: a sharp-tongued twelve-year old orphan a mute madwoman and an accused abortionist. Charlotte Petronille and Genevieve along with the dozens of other women aboard La Baleine have no knowledge of what lies ahead and no control over their futures. Strangers brought together by fate these brave and fierce young women will face extraordinary adversity--pirates slavedrivers sickness war--but also the private trauma of heartbreak and unrequited love children born and lost cruelty and unexpected pleasure and a friendship forged in fire that will sustain through the years. At once a gorgeously written work of startling depth and emotion and a gripping drama marrying high-seas adventure with pioneer grit Pelican Girls is a powerful thought-provoking novel about female friendship and desire and the daunting compromises women are forced to make to survive.