• XX Chromosomes

Review: Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson

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Chateau of Secrets
Melanie Dobson
Howard Books May 13, 2014
Pages 400
ISBN13: 9781476746111
A copy provided in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads  •  Amazon  •  Indiebound  •  Powell’s Books

Recommendation: 4/5

From Goodreads:
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. Gisèle 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 château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while 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, Gisèle’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 floored—her 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…

My Thoughts
Dobson seamlessly weaves two interconnecting narratives of the past and the present. Two wonderfully strong and independent female protagonists spotlighted, leaving the audience in awe of their courage, grace and poise.

Gisele exemplified courage amidst her fear and risked her life for her county, countrymen, allies, family and the innocent. Her faith and hope kept her going through the adversity she faced. Amazing woman with an impressive story to tell. As her story fell together piece by piece you appreciate her efforts along with Josef/Henri and countless others taking monumental risks as well as putting their lives in grave danger to spare others. Emotional story with a compelling character.

Chloe mirrors her grandmother in strength, courage and poise. Despite her story being a tad predictable, suspense was held as she unraveled the silken thread of her family’s unanswered questions underneath the dark shadow of WWII.

Usually in the case of split narratives one story plays dominate to the audience, however, I found both stories equal. The past and the present merged together in such a complimentary way enhancing the entire narrative and characters. Numerous twists side by side with suspense and the emotional pull make this a page turner.

Dobson approached aspects of WWII not commonly addressed, masterfully blending faith, hope and religious interjections in all the correct locations without losing control. A fabulous story depicting WWII with messages of family, endless sacrifices and love. Highly recommend Chateau of Secrets, Dobson forged an emotional and memorable narrative along with endearing characters.

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