I am thrilled to be sharing my review of The Secret of the Château by Kathleen McGurl with you today.
My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to HQ Digital, HarperCollins for sending me a digital proof copy of the book via NetGalley in return for my honest review.
Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what The Secret of the Château is about.
~ From the back of the book ~
Everything is about to change…
1789. Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais, have fled the palace of Versailles for their château, deep in the French Alps. But as revolution spreads through the country, even hidden away the Auberts will not be safe forever. Soon they must make a terrible decision in order to protect themselves, and their children, from harm.
Present day. When Lu’s mother dies leaving her heartbroken, the chance to move to a château in the south of France with her husband and best friends seems an opportunity for a new beginning. But Lu can’t resist digging into their new home’s history, and when she stumbles across the unexplained disappearance of Catherine Aubert, the château begins to reveal its secrets – and a mystery unsolved for centuries is uncovered…
~ My thoughts ~
When I heard that Kathleen McGurl had a new novel coming out this month, I knew I had to be a part of the blog tour. I loved the author’s 2 previous novels: The Forgotten Secret and The Stationmaster’s Daughter so I was really looking forward to The Secret of the Château. It is an historical, time slip novel set in France (my favourite books!) and I loved it!
One sunny Sunday, I sat on my reading bench in the garden and got lost in this story about new beginnings, communal living, a sense of community, and finding yourself.
I time-travelled back to France in 1789 and to the Court of Louis XVI at the beginning of the French Revolution. In the present day, I spent hours at the Château d’Aubert in the fictional village of Saint-Michel-sur-Verais in the very real Alpes-Maritimes department of South East France. I adore France and I am sad not to be visiting this year, so to be able to travel to the my favourite corner of France with Kathleen McGurl’s novel was comforting.
The historical story is told from the point of view of 3 characters: Pierre Aubert, an adviser to Louis XVI, his young wife Catherine – in Marie Antionette’s circle – and Catherine’s maid, Claudette. Pierre, in his fifties and a widower, married Catherine in the hope that she could give him an heir but I believe he truly loved her. Catherine is 19 and a child herself. She is selfish, snobbish and immature. Her character mirrors that of Marie Antoinette and the Queen is a great influence on her. When the Revolution starts, the family flee the Palace of Versailles and head to Pierre’s ancestral home, the Château d’Aubert in Saint-Michel-sur-Verais, thinking it will be safer for their children. Unbeknown to them, it was about to get much worse.
The present day story is told solely from Lu’s point of view. Lu, her husband and their 4 friends decide to sell up and retire to a run down château in France. The group are at a time in their lives where their families have flown the nest and it is time to focus on them. Each of the friends settle into life at the château and find their own rhythm. It takes Lu a bit longer than the others as she needs to give herself permission to spend time doing things just for her and working through her grief from losing her mum. Lu was a history teacher and she is intrigued to find out more about the château’s past. It’s whilst she’s researching it’s history that we see how Pierre and Catherine’s story fits into the present day. The two timelines sit closely together as what we don’t find out from Pierre and Catherine, we find out through Lu’s research.
If I’m honest, I preferred the present day story more, mainly because I love a house with a secret and a story with a mystery to be solved. I also enjoyed following Lu’s journey. Nevertheless, the historical story was well written – as I would expect from Kathleen McGurl – and necessary in order to piece together the findings from Lu’s research. The two stories were nicely woven together.
If you’re looking for an escapist read to enjoy in the sunshine this bank holiday weekend, then I would recommend downloading the The Secret of the Château.
~ Where to find The Secret of the Château ~
~ About Kathleen McGurl ~
Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. After a long career in the IT industry she became a full time writer in 2019. When she’s not writing, she’s often out running, slowly.
Connect with Kathleen McGurl:
~ Follow the tour ~
Be sure to drop by the other stops on the The Secret of the Château blog tour!