This book has been long awaited. It’s been on so many ‘most anticipated’ lists and receiving a ton of hype which normally would make me a little wary, but not going to lie, I have been excited for this one since I participated in the cover revel last spring! The cover plus the multigenerational story of a stunning French chateau sounded too promising to pass up.
I also read Stephanie Dray’s, My Dear Hamilton , a couple of years ago and was impressed with Dray’s historical research and writing. Dray has written a number of historical fiction novels and contributed her skills to other compilations. Some of her stories are more ancient history while her other more notable works are American history, this is her first historical fiction novel set during this period in Europe/France.
But her novel about Eliza Hamilton was wonderful and it stood out as a well researched women’s fiction set in a historical period. That’s what made me even more excited to read this one. I love how Dray gives voice to women in history. She does a brilliant job and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one!
An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy.
Most castles are protected by men. This one by women.
A founding mother…
1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.
A daring visionary…
1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing–not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.
A reluctant resistor…
1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.
Intricately woven and powerfully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we take from those who came before us. (summary from Goodreads)
This novel was undeniably epic and its length reflected that. It was almost 600 pages but I didn’t ever get the feeling that it was too long. It covered the history and stories of three women and a chateau spanning three wars. It was an impressive novel with a lot to recommend itself. The first thing that stood out to me was this book was incredibly detailed in its historical research. This must have taken Dray months and months of research (perhaps even years) to gather sufficient details for three very different periods not to mention construct the lives and stories of the character. That alone makes this book one that you don’t want to miss. Plus it’s based on a true story. Historical fiction readers, do not miss this one!
The only thing that I struggled with a bit was the shifting time periods. In some ways I would rather have had it told more linear rather than switching between the time periods but that was a minor thing. Once I got orientated to the style it wasn’t a big deal. WhileI loved the various stories, I felt most invested in Adrienne’s story over Beatrice or Marthe. I personally thought her story was done a little better than the other two and there were some times when I felt that this book would have worked better if the focus was just on Adrienne, but I also appreciated how the stories came together overall. I think the reason Adrienne’s story felt more authentic is because her story inspired Dray to write this one so her love for Adrienne and the chateau was evident in her parts.
The meticulous research that went into this one and the detailed nature of the three narratives truly gave readers the feel that they were reading something epic and special. This book was just that. My little criticism of this one were not enough to warrant a change in rating. It was still a 5 star read for me. I loved the history, the storytelling and the research of this one. I was interested in all the time periods and loved the characters. While it was a longer read, I personally didn’t find it slow, instead I found it epic and sweeping.
Book Info and Rating
Format576 pages, Paperback
PublishedMarch 30, 2021 by Berkley Books
ISBN9780593335932 (ISBN10: 0593335937)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical fiction