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Sue Peabody tells the story of “Madeleine’s Children.”

After eight years, Sue Peabody’s work on her new book is almost complete.  Peabody, a history professor at Washington State University Vancouver, has been working on a historical biography dealing with colonial slave law. The book’s working title is Madeleine’s Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France’s Ocean Colonies.

Madeline’s Children is about a family held in slavery in France’s Indian Ocean colonies.  In the book, Madeleine is a girl from India. She was sold into slavery as a child. Madeleine and her three children: Maurice, Constance and Furcy, were born on the island of Réunion, off the coast of Madagascar. The book details her life and that of her children as they face the challenges of surviving under slave conditions.

Before settling on Madeline’s Children, Peabody struggled with picking out a title for her book; however, Peabody thinks that the working title will also be the final one. Though the book is still not released yet, Peabody expects the book to be in the market by early 2016. It is under contract with Oxford University Press.

Peabody said that this book is a “culmination of her career as a historian.” In 1990, she first found out about Furcy’s lawsuit to win his freedom. At the time, she was researching her dissertation on France’s free soil law, a principle that was later used in court by former slaves to press for French citizenship. Eventually, she realized that she wanted to write about Furcy’s struggle for freedom as a way to examine legal strategies against slavery.

“I think my book will help us get inside the lives of people who lived under both slavery and freedom, and will really help to pick apart what these words mean in ways that are relevant today,” Peabody said when asked what she hopes her readers will get out of reading her book.

For those who have questions about Sue Peabody’s book, she can be contacted by email at speabody@vancouver.wsu.edu. Peabody can also be contacted by phone at (360) 546-9647.

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