Book Summary: A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family's abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past. GisÃÂ¨le Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family's medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler's army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France. But when German soldiers take over the family's chÃÂ¢teau, GisÃÂ¨le is forced to host them as wellÃ¢â¬âwhile harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend's baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child. A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Sauver, GisÃÂ¨le's granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler's army. Riley wants to research Chloe's family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is flooredÃ¢â¬âher family isn't Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn't know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover_ With emotion and intrigue, Melanie Dobson brings World War II France to life in this beautiful novel about war, family, sacrifice, and the secrets of the past.
Book Review: This is a book that sticks you! I spend days after finishing this book wishing there was more to read of it. I loved the moving back and forth between World War II and present day. I loved both the stories. I never wanted either to end. It was a spectacularly written, very believable and such a tender story of redemption. I once read a book similar in nature but this story fulfilled everything that other story could not. It was a private wish of mine to read a story developed as Melanie Dobson did. I laughed, I cried and I lived every moment of the story. I can not thank the author enough for writing this moving piece of fiction that was thread around the true events of World War II and the beauty of God within those horrific events. Gisele's story was wrapped in the gospel of Christ who is greater than any tragedy man can think up. I love secret tunnels and rooms. A mystery of how things really were versus what people tell. These are the things that make a good mystery.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Howard Books for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.
Fantastic! Wonderful! A definite must read! These are all words or phrases that briefly describe my opinion of this novel. The novel has two storylines going at the same time, one set in present day and one beginning in 1940 and continuing until the Allies expel the Nazis from France some time in 1944. The story alternates chapters between Chloe and Gisele. While this story is fiction, it is based on a real person's life and her heroism is to be greatly commended.
Gisele Duchant is a young college graduate who lives in a marvelous home that has been in her family for over 300 years. The chateau is a place of security and safety that is until her father is murdered and the Germans come to town. The Nazis decide to make the chateau their headquarters in the area and to have Gisele work for them by feeding them and cleaning up after them. Meanwhile, Gisele's younger brother is head of the local French Resistance movement and is in hiding from the Nazis. Gisele takes food to help support him and his men. Gisele's best friend is deported and leaves behind her baby daughter, who Gisele takes in and cares for at great danger to herself. Gisele is a strong Catholic and relies on her faith in God to provide answers.
There are many themes prevalent throughout the story such as redemption, heroism, courage, bravery, succeeding against all odds, being willing to lay down one's life for another, and allowing God to transform ugliness in to beauty to name a few. I had no idea that there were Jewish men who served in the German Army during WWII. I learned some interesting history about France. I was thoroughly immersed in this story from beginning to end and was easily able to relate to the emotions and fears of characters in the story. Melanie did a fantastic job of drawing me in to the story, keeping me intrigued and providing a wonderful ending. Please get a copy and enjoy this fabulous story for yourself!
Riveting! I knew when Melanie contacted me about reviewing this book that I was going to enjoy the story but little did I know how much. Chateau of Secrets is a historical-contemporary novel expertly written to engage the reader in both the past and present.
With alternating chapters, this story gripped my heart from the opening scene in the chapelle, to the ending scene in the same chapelle some 70 years later. I don't know a lot about France during WWII but I was mesmerized from the start by the story of Giselle, a young woman fighting for her country in the only way she could during a most horrible time in history.
Emotions of fear, angst, loyalty and love were prominent throughout this superbly written novel. I could feel the horrors of death and war, and at the same time I was swept away by the love Giselle had for her family and country. The pages are filled with faith, intrigue, suspense, drama and romance. This is a story of secrets that are kept out of shame and fear and love.
It's also a story about another young woman in today's world suffering heartbreak, an identity crisis and foundering in her faith. Chloe is searching for answers. She needs to find out who she is, where she is supposed to be in this life, and why her grandmother won't talk much about when she lived in France during the war.
There are a lot of characters in this story but I had no problem keeping them straight. As much as I enjoyed the contemporary scenes, I could have reveled in it being a total historical, those sections are that good! It was so hard to put this book down when I absolutely needed to, that I kept thinking about it as I was doing other things, anticipating the next time I could pick it back up. Finally, I decided I just could not wait any longer and stayed up from 3:30am until 6:00am so I could finish it! This is definitely one of the best books I have read so far this year. I highly recommend it to any historical/contemporary fan. If you haven't read a book written this way, you really should give it a try. And it's loosely based on a true story so that makes it even better!
I want to thank the author, Melanie Dobson, for sending me an Advance Uncorrected Proof for review purposes. I wasn't required to write a positive review, just my opinion of the book, which I have done. No compensation has been received.
"Courage doesn't mean you stop being afraid." He kissed her cheeks. "It means you continue to fight, even when you're terrified." - Michel Duchant
Chateau of Secrets and the main character Gis'ele Duchant, is loosely based on the life of Genevieve Marie Josephe de Saint Pern Menke, a French survivor of World War II. Gis'ele Duchant worked in secret to help the Jews and the Allies by hiding them from the German soldiers in the secret passageways under her family home, Chateau de 'Epines. The Germans confiscated her home to use as their headquarters and forced Gis'ele to feed them during their stay but they didn't know she was also slipping away to feed her brother, Michel, and other members of the French Resistance. Gis'ele lost almost everyone she cared about to the Germans but she never gave up in her fight for freedom.
This book was overflowing with Characters that displayed amazing strength. Gis'ele Duchant was a woman of faith, a brave woman who risked everything to save those around her despite the fact that it could mean her very life. Chloe Sauver faced humiliation by the media for walking away from her soon-to-be marriage, but her strength and determination wouldn't allow her to give up. Two amazing women. One fought for her freedom, while the other fought for her future. Michel Duchant, Gis'ele's brother, fought with the French Resistance and risked his life on a daily basis to help bring freedom to his country. Josef Milch, half German and Jew, joined the German army in order to save the life of his mother, save orphans and help the Allies. And even Riley Holtz showed strength by facing his past and asking for forgiveness from those he had hurt the most.
I have never seen such an amazing and inspiring heroine or a story that touched me as deeply as this one did. It shifted between Gis'ele's story in the 1940's and Chloe's story in the present day and the transition was so flawless and smooth. I have read books that switched from present to past and they often felt as if they should have been written as two separate books. This one, however, was done beautifully. I can really tell the research that went into writing this book, also. The attention to detail and the historical facts drew me in until I felt as if I were part of the story. As if I were the strong and fearless Gis'ele Duchant hiding in an underground tunnel while aeroplanes passed overhead and bombs exploded around me. Faith was a big part of this story as well. The characters, especially Gis'ele, often prayed for safety, guidance and wisdom. Hope poured from every page despite the feelings of despair they each sometimes felt. And the entrance to the underground tunnels was hidden inside the chapelle!
I have always held a sadness in my heart for the people that were tortured or killed during the holocaust and their surviving families. The Diary of Anne Frank really opened my eyes to the travesties that happened during that time and I have thought about them often since. This book is one of the best written, mostly fictional accounts I have had the pleasure of reading. It's a novel of epic proportions that I would love to see as a movie. It's exactly what I have come to expect from Melanie Dobson. She is an amazing writer that takes every aspect of a story and blends them together flawlessly to leave you satisfied and well entertained. I LOVE her books and Chateau of Secrets is my ultimate favorite! I couldn't put it down and I am anxiously awaiting her next book! If you like war-torn stories with characters of amazing strength and faith you'll love it as well. I can't recommend it enough!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone. I received no compensation for this review.