Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Howard Books
“Should she stand for all that was good and refuse them, even if it cost her her life? Or should she continue to compromise her morals to save her life – and the lives of those in her care?” Gisele questions in Melanie Dobson’s novel, Chateau of Secrets.
At four hundred pages, this paperback targets those who enjoy Christian fiction in the historical setting of World War Two in France from a Catholic viewpoint. With two minor cuss words, topics about war crimes, and physical abuse, the story would be apropos for mature readers. The ending includes the author’s notes, acknowledgements, discussion questions with book club suggestions, and a conversation with the writer.
In this romantic tome covering several decades, twenty-two year old Gisele Duchant lives at her parents’ medieval Chateau d’Epines in Normandy, France, when German soldiers invade the area. With her brother in the French resistance hiding in tunnels under their home, her father dead, and her best friend – a Jewish wife and mother– missing, she is torn emotionally, spiritually, and patriotically trying to protect those she loves.
Over seventy years later and written in first person, twenty-eight year old Chloe Sauver, granddaughter to Gisele, has reservations about her engagement to Virginian Austin Vale as she sees Gisele’s memory fading away, often murmuring about her secretive past.
When Chloe’s father asks her to visit the family castle in France to do a documentary about Nazis using the home as a military headquarter, the young girl agrees to go, not only to solidify her feelings about Austin, she wants to uncover the cause of her grandmother’s torment and anguish.
As ghosts of the past during Gisele’s lifetime are brought to the attention of Chloe and the film maker who has ancestral history in the area as well, the two seek the reason behind the many family secrets, especially the whereabouts of a young baby girl who was in Gisele’s care.
Loosely based on a true story of Jews serving in Hitler’s army, Dobson’s writing captures the emotional angst, heart-breaking sacrifice, and shattering love lost as individuals fight for their loves, loyalties and morals. With lovingly expressing the beautiful visual landscape of war-torn France, she incorporates the portrait of souls who are committed to one another as they seek God’s purpose.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinion.