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Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson: A Book Review

Chateau of Secrets
Author: Melanie Dobson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian 
Publisher: Howard Books
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 400
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: 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…

     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

     My Review: During her fiance’s campaign to be a governor, Chloe receives a phone call from her mother asking her to go to her grandmother’s chateau in France. There, she is to meet with Riley who is doing a documentary of the German occupation of France. When she arrives, she learns her grandmother’s heroic deeds. During WWII her grandmother, Gisele, housed the Germans in her home, while she hid the French resistance and two Americans beneath the chateau's tunnels. Can Gisele keep up her deception to protect the soldiers and those she loves?

    I was enthralled by Gisele’s story. Gisele was an amazing heroine. She did incredible deeds to save those around her. She protected her brothers and the soldiers and claimed a Jewish baby as her home to keep her safe. She was a strong woman and was dealt many obstacles. Nevertheless, she kept her courage and overcame them. Readers will be taken away with Gisele and admire her selflessness. As for Chloe, I thought that she needed more development. I thought she was overshadowed by her illustrious grandmother. She was curious and determined to find out her grandmother’s secret. However, I preferred Gisele’s story over hers.

   Overall, this book is about, love, family, bravery, and good deeds. It is a story about a woman’s heroism during WWII. Even though Gisele was a fictional character, the author based the story on a real-life person, Vicomtesse Genevieve Menke. I also liked how Mrs. Dobson has portrayed not all Nazi’s as the bad guy. One of them helps Gisele throughout her obstacles. In this novel, Mrs. Dobson portrays that some Nazi’s were forced to join Hitler’s regime to protect their loved ones. Chateau of Secrets is a thought-provoking novel that will be sure to linger with you long after you read the last page. I recommend this book to fans of The Girl from Berlin, The Orphan’s Tale, and The Velvet Hours.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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