Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson ~ An Historical Fiction Book Review

Melanie Dobson
Historical Fiction

Back of the book:

Gisèle Duchant has a secret. With Hitler’s army bearing down on Normandy, Gisèle hides her brother and other resistance fighters in the tunnels underneath the Château d’Epines, her family’s medieval home. When the soldiers take over the château, Gisèle is forced to share her beloved home with the enemy even as she continues harboring members of the French resistance right below their feet. Then her best friend—a Jewish woman—disappears, and Gisèlerisks everything to care for her friend’s child. When the Nazis begin to suspect her secrets, Gisèle must work with an unlikely ally in an attempt to save herself and the life of this child.

Reeling from the deception of her fiancé, Chloe Sauver leaves the United States for her family’s ancestral home in Normancy. A filmmaker, Riley Holtz, has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army and he travels to the Château d’Epines to interview Gisèle’s granddaughter for his documentary. Chloe is floored—she doesn’t know the Nazis occupied her family’s home nor does she know what happened to her grandparents during World War II. As Chloe and Riley work together to unravel her family’s story, she is shocked by the secrets they find buried at the château . . .

My thoughts:

Every once in a while a book comes along that I think would make an intriguing movie. Chateau of Secrets is one of those books. Not only is the story full of twists and turns, but it also contains a piece of history that isn't widely known. During World War II there were a group of Jewish men that fought in the Germany army. They had many reasons to do so. Some were forced into service and some volunteered in an effort to save their loved ones. 

Another thing that sets this historical fiction book apart from others is the way the story unfolds. Chapter by chapter the reader is taken from the present then back into the past. As modern day Chloe is discovering the secrets of her family at the Château d’Epines in one chapter, then the tale of her grandmother Gisèle during the German occupation is playing out in the next chapter. This made the story read like a fast-paced suspense thriller.

The most amazing thing about this book was that it was loosely based on the real life story of  Genevieve Marie Josephe de Saint Pern Menke. It is completely plausible to think of this story as a work of fiction, but to understand that someone actually went through and survived all that this novel contains is just mind blowing. I enjoyed reading all of the follow up notes about the story at the end of the book just as much as the novel itself. 

What struck me the most about this account is how much we really don't even know about our own stories. Vague memories that we have as children may have one meaning to us, but if the truth were completely revealed it would have another meaning entirely. This story will cause you to think about how important our past is in relation to what our future will become. If you are a fan of historical fiction you are going to particularly like this one!

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