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The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart

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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, f 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… Unlock the secret of the château today. Perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Fiona Valpy and The Forgotten Village! Readers love Kathleen McGurl! ‘WOW! I can’t begin to find the right words to describe just how much I adored this… Had me hooked from the first few pages… Unputdownable.’ Goodreads reviewer‘A story you really live, wonderfully told… Absolutely compelling.’ Goodreads reviewer‘A compelling and gripping story that will hook you from the very first page… I highly recommend it.’ Goodreads reviewer‘I cannot say how much I loved this book! It was wonderful… I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.’ Goodreads reviewer‘Just so delightful… Such a wonderful book and easily the best book I’ve read so far this year.’ Goodreads reviewer‘I am totally lost for words… I can’t praise this book enough and will be telling family and friends to read this ROLLER COASTER EXTRAVAGANZA OF A BOOK.’ Goodreads reviewer


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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, f 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… Unlock the secret of the château today. Perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Fiona Valpy and The Forgotten Village! Readers love Kathleen McGurl! ‘WOW! I can’t begin to find the right words to describe just how much I adored this… Had me hooked from the first few pages… Unputdownable.’ Goodreads reviewer‘A story you really live, wonderfully told… Absolutely compelling.’ Goodreads reviewer‘A compelling and gripping story that will hook you from the very first page… I highly recommend it.’ Goodreads reviewer‘I cannot say how much I loved this book! It was wonderful… I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.’ Goodreads reviewer‘Just so delightful… Such a wonderful book and easily the best book I’ve read so far this year.’ Goodreads reviewer‘I am totally lost for words… I can’t praise this book enough and will be telling family and friends to read this ROLLER COASTER EXTRAVAGANZA OF A BOOK.’ Goodreads reviewer

30 review for The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Lu Marlow and her husband Phil have an evening together with their friends that they have known since University. Manda and Steve have a grown up daughter Zoe. Graham is single, they are all retired and nearly 60. They come up with the idea of selling their homes and buying a joint property in France. They end up purchasing “Chateau d’Aubert” The chapters alternate between the present time and the 1780’s. Comte de Verais Pierre Aubert, and wife Catherine are part of the royal court, until they ar Lu Marlow and her husband Phil have an evening together with their friends that they have known since University. Manda and Steve have a grown up daughter Zoe. Graham is single, they are all retired and nearly 60. They come up with the idea of selling their homes and buying a joint property in France. They end up purchasing “Chateau d’Aubert” The chapters alternate between the present time and the 1780’s. Comte de Verais Pierre Aubert, and wife Catherine are part of the royal court, until they are forced to flee to his ancestors chateau after the palace is attacked by French Revolutionaries. Will they be safe there. In the present time the friends are settling into their new home. Lu decides to look into the history of the chateau and the Aubert family. I loved this book and was drawn into it from the first page. The history of the French Revolution was very interesting and I loved how the two timelines played out slowly revealing the chateau’s secret. The vivid descriptions of the chateau, the mountains and villages really bought this story to life. A must read for any fans of historical mysteries. Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    This is another brilliant dual timeline story from this talented author! In this case five people who have been friends since their university days decide to buy a home together in the French Alps. They are all in their late fifties, all retired and include two couples and their friend, Grey. The present day story is related as a memoir from the point of view of Lu, an ex-history teacher who is intrigued by their new home and decides to research its past….. Their new home is a fabulous Château wh This is another brilliant dual timeline story from this talented author! In this case five people who have been friends since their university days decide to buy a home together in the French Alps. They are all in their late fifties, all retired and include two couples and their friend, Grey. The present day story is related as a memoir from the point of view of Lu, an ex-history teacher who is intrigued by their new home and decides to research its past….. Their new home is a fabulous Château which used to belong to the Comte and Comtesse de Verais, Pierre and Catherine Aubert. Their story involves the French court and revolution, escape and mystery but it is a mystery that Lu is determined to solve! The well developed characters from both eras, together with the skilful alternating of historical and current events makes this a fascinating read. It portrays the challenges of moving to a new home with friends, settling into a new community, making new roles for yourselves there and making new friends, alongside the worries concerning health, offspring and their new life. Intertwined with this are the historic events pertaining to the demise of the French aristocracy, their changing attitudes and roles and uncovering just what happened to them during the French revolution and tracing their descendants to the present day. I didn’t want to put it down until I’d finished it. It was a totally engaging read, a great mix of contemporary life with family drama, with a side helping of romance and, of course, historical events, related in an enthralling and highly entertaining manner – superb to escape into and a real page turner! I requested and was gifted a copy of this book via NetGalley and this is my honest review after choosing to read it and thoroughly enjoying doing so.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karen Mace

    I do love a dual timeline historical story, and this is brilliantly gripping and emotional as the story switches between now and back in the 1700's in France, as times were becoming very different for those in the royal palaces. It gives you 2 storylines that are equally as compulsive and I loved how both came together to provide a fitting ending. In the present day, we meet Lu and her husband Phil and their friends. All in their 50's and wondering what lies ahead for them all next, when one of t I do love a dual timeline historical story, and this is brilliantly gripping and emotional as the story switches between now and back in the 1700's in France, as times were becoming very different for those in the royal palaces. It gives you 2 storylines that are equally as compulsive and I loved how both came together to provide a fitting ending. In the present day, we meet Lu and her husband Phil and their friends. All in their 50's and wondering what lies ahead for them all next, when one of them has the genius idea of pooling all their resources and buying one property in France so they can all live together! Everyone is up for the idea, although Lu seems a little hesistant and wonders if it will come to be! Their group has had crazy ideas in the past and they've never panned out! But this time it happens, and when they stumble across an old Chateau that needs a bit of refurb it seems they've found their new home! And in 1785, we follow the story of Catherine who finds herself living at Versailles (lucky!!) after marrying Pierre who is an advisor to King Louis XVI, so they are part of the inner circle of the royal court and life seems blissfully happy. But things are changing outside the palace walls, and as tensions rise their lives are about to become much different. Both women have to face new changes in their lives and I loved seeing how they both reacted to these shifts in their set ups. Both are plagued with doubts and nerves but they find inner resolve and prove themselves to be quite resilient as they try to overcome challenges and tragedies that befall them. I loved the sense of history portrayed in the past storyline, and I really enjoyed Lu trying to solve the mystery aspect in the present timeline. This was a wonderfully absorbing read and I highly recommend it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jo Barton

    When five friends, all in their fifties, decide to pool their collective resources and relocate, from England, to a shared property in rural France, they discover the beautiful Château d'Aubert in the tiny town of Saint-Michel-sur-Verais in the Alpes-Maritime region. The château is very picturesque, but with some areas that need renovating, the five set about transforming the château into a stunning home. However, as with all old buildings there is much to discover and the air of mystery, and oc When five friends, all in their fifties, decide to pool their collective resources and relocate, from England, to a shared property in rural France, they discover the beautiful Château d'Aubert in the tiny town of Saint-Michel-sur-Verais in the Alpes-Maritime region. The château is very picturesque, but with some areas that need renovating, the five set about transforming the château into a stunning home. However, as with all old buildings there is much to discover and the air of mystery, and occasional ghostly feelings which surrounds the château, draws them ever deeper into its history. Told in alternate chapters we get the modern day story of the château as seen through the experiences of Lu, once a history teacher, who is fascinated by the history of the château which stretches back to the tumultuous days of the French Revolution. Throughout the story we get to learn more about complicated lives of Pierre and Catherine Aubert, Comte and Comtesse de Verais, who fled Versailles when the troubles escalated into danger and despair. However, they soon discover that escaping to the Château d'Aubert is not without its problems. I was equally at home in the modern day château as I was heading back in time to the days of the terror and the collapse of the ancien regime. The author describes everything so beautifully that time and place come alive and as one chapter ended I found that I was looking forward to either returning to the present with Lu, and the gang, or of heading back to the past to see how Pierre and Catherine were faring. The Secret of the Château is a beautifully written dual time narrative which takes you back to a dark period in French history and a time when to be a privileged aristocrat was fraught with danger. It was interesting to watch just how the historical strands of the story played out whilst at the same time allowing the modern day protagonists to bring the history of the château back to life again. History, mystery and a hint of ghostly activity make The Secret of the Château a perfect 'Lock down' sort of read 😊

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I’m always a complete pushover for a well told dual timeline story – and this one most definitely delighted me. The historical story begins at the court in Versailles with the approach of the revolution. Catherine, the Comtesse de Verais, naively adores Marie Antoinette and their privileged lifestyle, but when reality bites she and husband Pierre flee to their château in the Alps, hoping to escape what is to come. At first, I’ll admit it took me a few chapters to engage with their characters, and I’m always a complete pushover for a well told dual timeline story – and this one most definitely delighted me. The historical story begins at the court in Versailles with the approach of the revolution. Catherine, the Comtesse de Verais, naively adores Marie Antoinette and their privileged lifestyle, but when reality bites she and husband Pierre flee to their château in the Alps, hoping to escape what is to come. At first, I’ll admit it took me a few chapters to engage with their characters, and thought they lacked a little depth – Catherine seemed particular vain and vacuous – but that certainly changed once they arrived at the Château D’Aubert, fearing for their lives. I haven’t read many books with this historical perspective, and this account really deepened my understanding of the challenges, the realities, and the consequences – the author’s research really shines through, and she makes the twists and turns of the story really gripping too. In the present day, five friends in their fifties – two couples and a single friend – decide to change their lives and buy a property that they can renovate to live in together, and find themselves at the Château D’Aubert. As chance would have it, this isn’t the first book with a theme of fresh starts and communal living that I’ve read this year – but I particularly liked this one for the strength of its characters and the way the historical story clashed with the present. Needing a challenge and something to fill her days, Lu (formerly a history teacher) decides to research the château’s past and the fate of its earlier owners, and uncovers quite a story. There’s an excellent mystery at the story’s centre, with an added ghostly frisson, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the story unfold. The two stories are told in alternating chapters, and I must say I raced through this book, the pages turning faster and faster. I never felt any wrench moving from one story to the other, largely because they’re so well tied together – as Lu uncovers the past, we watch it unfold before us, and if I doubted my emotional engagement with Pierre and Catherine at the book’s start I was certainly heavily committed by the book’s end. The historical action is particularly edge-of-the-seat reading, with some really well written moments of high drama – but I equally enjoyed the interactions and relationships between the well-drawn characters in the contemporary story. I must mention the well-drawn setting too – the Alpes-Maritime area is somewhere I’ve never visited, but the author’s descriptions certainly brought it to life. A perfect escapist read for current times, real depth and interest in its historical background, and excellent storytelling – I thoroughly enjoyed this one…

  6. 5 out of 5

    Valerie Thirkettle-kayser

    I enjoyed this book for its overall atmosphere, which takes us back and forth between the present time and the end of the reign of Louis XVI in France. In the present time, we meet five friends who decide to retire together in France and purchase a beautiful old chateau in the Alpes-Maritimes. We share their adventures in a French village and discover how they settle in their new life. Central character Lu is the link between the present and the past. She decides to research the story of the cha I enjoyed this book for its overall atmosphere, which takes us back and forth between the present time and the end of the reign of Louis XVI in France. In the present time, we meet five friends who decide to retire together in France and purchase a beautiful old chateau in the Alpes-Maritimes. We share their adventures in a French village and discover how they settle in their new life. Central character Lu is the link between the present and the past. She decides to research the story of the chateau and brings together the past and the present. She brings to light the story of the couple who owned the chateau and who lived through the troubled times of the French revolution, at the court of the king and at their chateau until the sad end of their life. This book is using history as a background (although it could have done with a little more depth in the historical part), and tells a story of friendship, under the Provence sun. I loved the descriptions of places and nature in the book. However, the village and chateau are fictional, and they borrow details from different places that don’t belong to the same region, so to the readers who know the area … it feels strange. Overall it was an enjoyable read, and who would not like to dream of buying an old French chateau! Thank you to NetGalley, HQ Digital and the author Kathleen McGurl for the opportunity to read this Advanced Readers Copy of "The Secret of the Chateau". #TheSecretoftheChateau #NetGalley

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna || BooksandBookends

    A group of five friends, who went to University together whilst chatting decide now that they've paid off their respective mortgages and their children have grown up, it might be the perfect time to move into a mansion in France. Crazy as it is, it just makes sense. After finding the perfect chateau, they up sticks and move to a their new property, which has more history that even history teacher Lu could possibly imagine! This is a gorgeous contemporary book with a dual timeline. I loved the his A group of five friends, who went to University together whilst chatting decide now that they've paid off their respective mortgages and their children have grown up, it might be the perfect time to move into a mansion in France. Crazy as it is, it just makes sense. After finding the perfect chateau, they up sticks and move to a their new property, which has more history that even history teacher Lu could possibly imagine! This is a gorgeous contemporary book with a dual timeline. I loved the historical elements in the story being interspersed throughout. There's a great deal of history relating to the French Revolution with plenty of mystery to slowly unravel throughout the book. The book seemed to be perfectly paced and the two narratives ran seamlessly alongside one another. Both sets of characters from each timeline were likeable and realistic. It felt like a real mix of a read with very vivid imagery of both narratives. I found myself excited to swap timelines each chapter and felt like it was brilliant escapism. A lovely easy read perfect for being stuck inside during lockdown but it would be even more enjoyable to read on holiday!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jess Miller

    Perfect read for a day in the sun: Full Review Perfect read for a day in the sun: Full Review

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allyson

    Thank you to Netgalley, the publishing house and the author for the opportunity to read a complimentary advance reader copy of this book in return for review based upon my honest opinion. Every book I read from this author is a joy to read. This book is told in a dual storyline, the present day in the 1790s in France. In the present, a group of five friends in their late 50s has a little too much to drink one night and decide to buy a château in France together, it seems like a fantasy. When they Thank you to Netgalley, the publishing house and the author for the opportunity to read a complimentary advance reader copy of this book in return for review based upon my honest opinion. Every book I read from this author is a joy to read. This book is told in a dual storyline, the present day in the 1790s in France. In the present, a group of five friends in their late 50s has a little too much to drink one night and decide to buy a château in France together, it seems like a fantasy. When they start talking about it more, they realize they all really want to do this. The house they choose is a French château with a history that they will need to uncover, a history that leads back to the French revolution, rumours that their château is haunted, and rumours of the last Comte de Verais and his missing wife. The past story is told from the viewpoint of the Comte and Comtesse de Verais who were nobility who lived in the palace of Versailles and who fled for their château as the revolution endangered their lives. But how safe will they be at the château, and what will they do to try to save themselves and their children. I loved all the characters, they were well written and enjoyable, I mean who doesn’t want to buy château in France with their friends? I liked the history of the book, I have not read many historical fiction books from the time of the French revolution. The scenery was stunning and set the scene very well. The book seemed very well researched and the story was moving and left me with a smile.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Plunkett

    I loved this book and recommend it to fans of Beatriz Williams and The Lost Vintage. Head to France in The Secret of the Chateau by Kathleen McGurl. This story starts out with five friends starting retirement joking about buying a home together in the south of France. It alternates chapters between present day with protagonist Lu and the couple who owned the chateau the friends buy, Pierre and Catherine as well as their servant Claudette, on the cusp of the French Revolution. While her friends s I loved this book and recommend it to fans of Beatriz Williams and The Lost Vintage. Head to France in The Secret of the Chateau by Kathleen McGurl. This story starts out with five friends starting retirement joking about buying a home together in the south of France. It alternates chapters between present day with protagonist Lu and the couple who owned the chateau the friends buy, Pierre and Catherine as well as their servant Claudette, on the cusp of the French Revolution. While her friends set out on their own hobbies Lu begins to uncover the history of the Chateau and what happened to the family who lived there. I enjoyed seeing both storylines play out and converge as Lu learns more and more. Was a charming story with beautiful settings and cozy friends. After finishing the book I want to retire to the south of France with my best friends.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    Over dinner, five friends who met in their first week at university, now two couples, Lu and Phil, Manda and Steve, plus Gray, hatch a plan. They are all recent empty nesters and with the freedom from work and money issues they decide to sell up in the UK and buy a chateau in France together, and have fun in early retirement. At first, Lu gets swept up in everyone else’s excitement while secretly hoping one of the others will have second thoughts so the subject can return to one of ‘what-ifs’ ov Over dinner, five friends who met in their first week at university, now two couples, Lu and Phil, Manda and Steve, plus Gray, hatch a plan. They are all recent empty nesters and with the freedom from work and money issues they decide to sell up in the UK and buy a chateau in France together, and have fun in early retirement. At first, Lu gets swept up in everyone else’s excitement while secretly hoping one of the others will have second thoughts so the subject can return to one of ‘what-ifs’ over the dinner table. She won’t be the one though, and before she knows it, houses have been sold, years of memories are being sorted and packed, and life in France is real. While Phil gets the gardening bug, and the others oversee the project of renovation, or get lost in rediscovering old hobbies like cycling, running and horse riding, Lu struggles to find her place in their new home. As a history teacher, it isn’t long before the mysterious tales of the last Comte and Comtesse de Verais to live in the chateau, Pierre and Catherine Aubert, are making her delve deeper into the past. As Lu does her best to uncover their story, we get taken back to watch events unfurl and I loved this split between life in the modern day and the past. Our time spent with Catherine and Pierre, first at the Palace of Versailles and then at their Chateau, highlights a difficult time for the noble classes of France. Catherine adores Marie-Antoinette and misses her life at court when Pierre whisks her back to the safety of the chateau. He can see the trouble ahead, but his young wife is too innocent and indulged to understand the danger they are in. Pierre never stops doing all he can to protect his wife and children, which at the end includes making some difficult decisions. There is a lot to like in this book that gives so much more than then a new life in France novel. From the insights into a fascinating period of history, the mystery to be solved and the great fun the five friends have together as they settle into a new and different phase of life, I loved it, and the story stayed with me long after I finished the last page. This would be a perfect holiday read, but this year it will work just as well as a great escape from lockdown.

  12. 5 out of 5

    L.S.

    As a fan of historical fiction and Kathleen McGurl, I had super high hopes, and was not disappointed. I loved the dual timeline, especially The French Revolution aspect. Combining the story of the family Aubert with the adventure of the British retirees made for a fascinating read, connecting the past and the present through the château in the Alpes-Maritime and the village it overlooked.  The story of the Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais begins at the Palace of Versa As a fan of historical fiction and Kathleen McGurl, I had super high hopes, and was not disappointed. I loved the dual timeline, especially The French Revolution aspect. Combining the story of the family Aubert with the adventure of the British retirees made for a fascinating read, connecting the past and the present through the château in the Alpes-Maritime and the village it overlooked.  The story of the Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais begins at the Palace of Versailles, as members of the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoniette. As the Revolution takes a hold, Pierre and Catherine flee to his family castle and live a relatively quiet life, raising children, and supporting their tenants and the villagers alike. When revolutionary forces move out of Paris in search of Louis's supporters, the family is placed in danger again. Someone has betrayed them, and they must flee to safety once more. If only it were so simple. Baying crowds descend upon the château before they are ready to leave. Will they make it to safety? What becomes of the castle? In alternating chapters (between the events of the 1780s), the author tells the tale of five Brits looking to start a new life together as retirement beckons. During a boozy evening together, the idea is raised about clubbing together to buy a place in France. Was it an alcohol-fueled pipedream, or could it become a reality? One member of the group, Lu, is less enthusiastic than the others but does not want to be the one to shatter everyone's dreams. And so, the château is purchased. With its many rooms, outlying buildings and towers, there's a lot of work to be done, but they get stuck in and start renovating. It's not until Lu's son Tom comes for a visit that the window without a room is spotted. Lu's intrigue is piqued. While her husband tends to the garden with his new pet goat, she starts to research the castle. As they settle into their new life, the secrets of the château are gradually revealed.  The opulence of the French Court and the exceptionalism of the nobility is set against the poverty and anger of the working classes. In the modern setting, the village is harmonious and beautifully depicted. The story explodes at great pace, keeping the history alive as the modern-day residents delve further into what might have happened to the castle's original owners.  If you love a touch of history with your mystery, then this is the book for you. The pages fly by as each chapter reveals a new layer to the characters and their stories.  Another winner for me from Kathleen McGurl. 

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pam Robertson

    With alternating chapters, you follow the narratives of two stories, one set at the time of the French Revolution and the other in present day France. As you pick up the threads of each timeline, there is no confusion, so deftly is this novel plotted. There is plenty of historical detail about the life at Versailles during the reign of Louis XVI and the tensions between the ordinary French people and the aristocrats where certain levels of society felt that they had a divine right to the lion's With alternating chapters, you follow the narratives of two stories, one set at the time of the French Revolution and the other in present day France. As you pick up the threads of each timeline, there is no confusion, so deftly is this novel plotted. There is plenty of historical detail about the life at Versailles during the reign of Louis XVI and the tensions between the ordinary French people and the aristocrats where certain levels of society felt that they had a divine right to the lion's share of the riches of the country. When you travel forward in time to the group of friends who decide to emigrate to France and to settle in the Chateau, you can see that the prosperous retirees have no difficulty in finding their own niche in the French society. You can see attitudes to bringing up children in both storylines. Catherine Aubert copies the approach of the aristocrats she meets in the French court and largely hands her son over to the servants. You see how her thoughts about this develop. The children of the ex-pats have grown up but you discover the importance they have to their parents even in adulthood. There are some interesting plotlines and situations throughout. I did guess the secret of the chateau but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this historical novel. In short: A dual timeline contrasts life in a French chateau over the centuries. Thanks to the author for a copy of the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jane Hunt

    Exciting historical fiction fuses with a making a new start contemporary story in an absorbing page-turning read. The contemporary story seen from Lu 's point of view follows the adventures of five friends in their late fifties who decide to sell up and move to France. Believably crafted easy to like characters and a vividly described setting make this contemporary French adventure full of humour and poignancy. Full of vivid imagery and colourful characters the historical story set in the late ei Exciting historical fiction fuses with a making a new start contemporary story in an absorbing page-turning read. The contemporary story seen from Lu 's point of view follows the adventures of five friends in their late fifties who decide to sell up and move to France. Believably crafted easy to like characters and a vividly described setting make this contemporary French adventure full of humour and poignancy. Full of vivid imagery and colourful characters the historical story set in the late eighteenth century has a menacing atmosphere. The dangers faced by the count and his family realistic. The past and present merge when Lu investigates what happened to the Chateau's previous aristocratic inhabitants. Both stories are engaging and their connections easy to follow in this historical timeslip mystery. I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    S.E. Jones

    Thank you NetGalley and Kathleen McGurl for the opportunity to read The Secret of the Chateau. I was absorbed from the first chapter, whisked away to the south of France and a beautiful chateau which has been purchased by five best friends relocating in their retirement for a better quality of life. The story switches between these new occupants and the story of Pierre and Catherine who were resident in the same chateau at the time of the French Revolution in the late 1700's. The story is told i Thank you NetGalley and Kathleen McGurl for the opportunity to read The Secret of the Chateau. I was absorbed from the first chapter, whisked away to the south of France and a beautiful chateau which has been purchased by five best friends relocating in their retirement for a better quality of life. The story switches between these new occupants and the story of Pierre and Catherine who were resident in the same chateau at the time of the French Revolution in the late 1700's. The story is told in an effortless, silky way as though you are being led along a winding path through the grounds of the chateau and the events of the book are happening around you. I absolutely adored it and whizzed through the whole book on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I haven't read any books by this author before but since reading this I've purchased several others. A gem of a book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Candy Briggs

    Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais, were just married and had moved into the royal palace. Catherine was so excited to be with Queen Marie Antoinette. She was now one of her Ladies in Waiting. The apartment was so beautiful, opulent, and sumptuous. She trusted her husband even though he was older. He was still good looking even at fifty. He worshipped her and would do anything for her. The other half of the book is about Lu and Phil, Manda and Steve, and finally Gray. Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais, were just married and had moved into the royal palace. Catherine was so excited to be with Queen Marie Antoinette. She was now one of her Ladies in Waiting. The apartment was so beautiful, opulent, and sumptuous. She trusted her husband even though he was older. He was still good looking even at fifty. He worshipped her and would do anything for her. The other half of the book is about Lu and Phil, Manda and Steve, and finally Gray. They decide to sell their houses and move to France. They have been forced into retirement and have nothing keeping them in England. There are a lot of twists and turns. So many things happen to all of them. It is heart-rending and heartwarming. You will go through a wide spectrum of emotions. Crying, laughing, and just being happy. The characters are engaging and it keeps our attention. France is described in such beautiful prose. The excitement of court and the fear about what comes later is present. You can feel the tensions grow and the mystery is always present for Lu. I also highly recommend it. I received this ARC from Net Galley and voluntarily reviewed it and loved it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey (Bring My Books)

    Look. Kathleen McGurl just gets it. The dual timeline plot narrative can be tricky if not done right, but it can be BRILLIANT when done well. Enter Kathleen. I honestly don't really know how else to explain it other than this author writes books that you WANT TO READ. That you HAVE TO FINISH. Ones that you CANNOT PUT DOWN. I don't tend to wander too far from my favorite historical genres, WWI and WWII, but I figured for McGurl (author of a favorite from last year, The Forgotten Secret) I would do Look. Kathleen McGurl just gets it. The dual timeline plot narrative can be tricky if not done right, but it can be BRILLIANT when done well. Enter Kathleen. I honestly don't really know how else to explain it other than this author writes books that you WANT TO READ. That you HAVE TO FINISH. Ones that you CANNOT PUT DOWN. I don't tend to wander too far from my favorite historical genres, WWI and WWII, but I figured for McGurl (author of a favorite from last year, The Forgotten Secret) I would do it. Venturing into revolutionary era France was not exactly new to me, but it's not something I would even remotely consider myself learned in. However, that really didn't matter. McGurl does a great job with show & tell without ever making the reader feel inadequate or that they're being told something, which is not something that I think comes easy to every historical fiction writer. I really liked both the past and present day stories (um, hi, hello, where are my four friends that want to go in on buying a chateau in France? Give me a ring, yeah?), and it's fair to say that this book HOOKED me right from the start. (Brilliant prologue. Just. Brilliant.) Also, if you need any more incentive to give her a try? After finishing this book, I went to my ereader and bought up basically all of her backlist. Kathleen McGurl is the real deal, y'all. Thank you to NetGalley and HQ Digital for the opportunity to read and review this book before it's publication date! This in no way affected my review, opinions are my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Knight

    Historical fiction at its best! Loved this book! I really enjoy historical fiction and this was excellant! The transition of the two stories from different times was easy to picture and to read!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lianne

    Although the premise of this book sounded inviting, the execution was not in my taste. I'm afraid I didn't enjoy the writing style.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I have been a fan of Kathleen MCGurl’s books for a while now, She writes wonderful dual time stories. I was thrilled when I saw her latest available on Netgalley and doubly happy since it is set in France and is a story about the French Revolution, both favorites of mine. The story revolves around 5 friends who decide to retire to France and pool their resources to buy a French chateau. They find one in the region of the Alpes-Maritimes region. This area has delights for all their hobbies, excep I have been a fan of Kathleen MCGurl’s books for a while now, She writes wonderful dual time stories. I was thrilled when I saw her latest available on Netgalley and doubly happy since it is set in France and is a story about the French Revolution, both favorites of mine. The story revolves around 5 friends who decide to retire to France and pool their resources to buy a French chateau. They find one in the region of the Alpes-Maritimes region. This area has delights for all their hobbies, except for maybe Lu, the main protagonist, but she loves history and the friends have bought a historic chateau, voila a hobby is found, researching the history of the chateau. The other part of the story is the story of Pierre and Catherine Aubert, Comte and Comtesse de Verais. They are favorites in the court of Louis XVI, which would be great if it was not for that pesky revolution. They flee to their chateau for safety, but is there safety to be found? The story was wonderful for the history, the setting, the mystery and the writing. If you like a good dual time story like I do, this is a great pick, and if you have not given Kathleen McGurl books a try. I highly recommend that you do so at the first opportunity. Thanks to NetGalley, and the author, Kathleen McGurl for the opportunity to review this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    Lu and her husband, Phil, have been friends with Steve, Manda and Grey since university. With their children grown up they decide one evening to pool resources and buy a chateau in France. The chateau was once owned by the Pierre and Catherine Aubert who were part of the Royal Court around the French Revolution. Charting how the friends get on in France and life for the Auberts in late 1700s. The friends are told there is a ghost. There's been a fire years ago demolishing half the building and th Lu and her husband, Phil, have been friends with Steve, Manda and Grey since university. With their children grown up they decide one evening to pool resources and buy a chateau in France. The chateau was once owned by the Pierre and Catherine Aubert who were part of the Royal Court around the French Revolution. Charting how the friends get on in France and life for the Auberts in late 1700s. The friends are told there is a ghost. There's been a fire years ago demolishing half the building and the lights flicker. Could the ghost be trying to tell them something? I loved the present day story and seeing the challenges each had and how they were overcome. The 1700s part was a little fluffy. I didn't connect with Catherine as much and more could be done to round her character. I also didn't feel that the atmosphere was captured. But an enjoyable read. Story flowed well. A good way to pass time during Covid 19 lockdown!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Annarella

    A dual timeline story that is heartwarming and moving, engrossing and entertaining. I liked the well thought characters, the plot that flows and the historical parts. It was a good read, recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tessa (Talks Books)

    The Secret of the Chateau is a gripping story that enthralls from beginning to end. The setting is gorgeous- from Versailles to a chateau in the French Alps. If you are ever going to fall in love with a setting in a book, this is a strong contender for your affections. I’ve been to Versailles, and a small village in France and this story quickly took me back there. It is two stories in one - a modern-day tale of a group of friends transitioning into retirement together and a historical tale of the The Secret of the Chateau is a gripping story that enthralls from beginning to end. The setting is gorgeous- from Versailles to a chateau in the French Alps. If you are ever going to fall in love with a setting in a book, this is a strong contender for your affections. I’ve been to Versailles, and a small village in France and this story quickly took me back there. It is two stories in one - a modern-day tale of a group of friends transitioning into retirement together and a historical tale of the Comte and Comtess of Verais during the French Revolution. I found the historical fiction to be the most compelling and poignant of the two stories. That period is fascinating to me. Admittedly it is fascinating in a car wreck kind of way but still engaging. It was a clear case of man’s inhumanity to man. So many people died by Guillotin when their only crimes were being born to a titled family and obliviousness. Most nobles were not malicious or perpetrators of crimes. The current day story was not as intriguing, but it was still a charming tale. I would never even think of having a retirement home to live in with my spouse and our three closest friends. Their plight, though, did not hold my attention like the struggles of the chateau’s former occupants. The mystery and the paranormal aspects gave the novel a fun, chill-inducing twist. I love a good haunting story, and this one did not disappoint. I also enjoyed the plethora of pets, from the kittens – Flip and Flop – to the dog, Felix, and Clarabel the goat. It is a lovely cast of pet characters that are all endearing. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mrs Sheena Reeves

    Very hard to get into. It seemed to drag the story line on. The actual story was interesting but too much unnecesary imformation.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate Potapenko

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Predictable? It probably is.. But I still found a good read. Something I categorise as a holiday read, it's easy to read, you enjoying it and it has a bit of a mystery. I liked the fact that descriptions of locations made you actually feel that you've been there and I had a very clear picture of the place. Catherine's character did irritate me a lot, but that was because she was very irritating spoiled little girl. I don't really like ghost presence in novels, much prefer their absence and just re Predictable? It probably is.. But I still found a good read. Something I categorise as a holiday read, it's easy to read, you enjoying it and it has a bit of a mystery. I liked the fact that descriptions of locations made you actually feel that you've been there and I had a very clear picture of the place. Catherine's character did irritate me a lot, but that was because she was very irritating spoiled little girl. I don't really like ghost presence in novels, much prefer their absence and just real mysteries, but guess it should've been part of the story here. Other than that I did enjoy it and would read something else by the author at some point. Thank you NetGalley for my free copy

  26. 5 out of 5

    T Rowley

    If you enjoy historical fiction you will love this book. This is the first novel I have read by Kathleen McGurl but I will definitely be looking for more. This story had me gripped. It had a depth which made me care about the all the characters, it made me want to visit France and do some historical research myself! The story switches between present day and late 1700’s France at the time of the revolution. It felt well researched and was cleverly written to reveal the chateau secrets. The book p If you enjoy historical fiction you will love this book. This is the first novel I have read by Kathleen McGurl but I will definitely be looking for more. This story had me gripped. It had a depth which made me care about the all the characters, it made me want to visit France and do some historical research myself! The story switches between present day and late 1700’s France at the time of the revolution. It felt well researched and was cleverly written to reveal the chateau secrets. The book progressed a good pace - fast enough to keep you intrigued and turning the pages but still at a pace where you can lose yourself in the descriptions of the beautiful French mountains, countryside and villages. I rated this 5⭐️ and would highly recommend.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jena Henry

    A run-down chateau was the landholding of titled French Aristocrats and now it’s the home of five friends who are seeking a fresh start in retirement. Author McGurl weaves a lovely tapestry that connects the past and the present. The story takes place in the Alpes-Maritime and it was entertaining to read about a province in France that I do not know too much about. The author writes beautiful word pictures of the setting and when I googled to see some photos, it turns out that she did a marvelous A run-down chateau was the landholding of titled French Aristocrats and now it’s the home of five friends who are seeking a fresh start in retirement. Author McGurl weaves a lovely tapestry that connects the past and the present. The story takes place in the Alpes-Maritime and it was entertaining to read about a province in France that I do not know too much about. The author writes beautiful word pictures of the setting and when I googled to see some photos, it turns out that she did a marvelous job of describing the mountains, rivers and small villages. This European Historical Fiction shares the story of two families, in alternating chapters. Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais lived as part of the Court in Versailles, until 1789, when the fires of the French Revolution forced them to escape to the family chateau. Who can they trust? Will they be safe? The modern-day British family is composed of two couples, and a single guy, all close friends since college and now looking to start a new life together in retirement. They pool their resources and buy a chateau. A chateau with a ghost. Will the family settle in and will they uncover the secrets of their new place? From the charming cover to the end of the story, this book is a lovely read. The history of the French Revolution is well-presented and will hold your interest. The process of setting up home in an old chateau is interesting, because it’s a dream of many people. Readers will guess the secret almost immediately, but that won’t prevent them from getting attached to the characters. What surprised me was how little the modern family involved themselves in village life. Author McGurl is a prolific write of historical fiction and her latest book will be another hit. Thanks to NetGalley, Rachel’s Random Resources and HarperCollins for a review copy. This is my honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Whitham (curled_up_with_a_good_book)

    In 1789, Pierre and his wife Catherine live in the Palace of Versailles and are part of King Louis XVI’s court. But the revolution kicks off and they’re not safe, so they take refuge in their chateau in the French Alps. But as things worsen, Pierre realises he has to make some decisions to keep him and his family safe…..but will they be able to escape the mobs? In the present day, Lu and her friends decide that there isn’t much keeping them in England so decide to jointly buy a chateau in France. In 1789, Pierre and his wife Catherine live in the Palace of Versailles and are part of King Louis XVI’s court. But the revolution kicks off and they’re not safe, so they take refuge in their chateau in the French Alps. But as things worsen, Pierre realises he has to make some decisions to keep him and his family safe…..but will they be able to escape the mobs? In the present day, Lu and her friends decide that there isn’t much keeping them in England so decide to jointly buy a chateau in France. But when they arrive, locals keep mentioning odd things to the friends about ghosts and a missing aristocrat……Lu decides, as a historian, that it is time she started to look into the mystery. But as strange things happen in the house, and she does more digging, she realises that the chateau holds many mysteries. Will she be able to uncover the secrets of the chateau? I thoroughly enjoyed this! Told via multiple narratives, the story flits between present day and the late 1700s, as we follow Pierre, his wife & servants and Lu, Phil and her friends (present day). The chateau sounds like an absolute dream; I was so jealous as I would love to move somewhere like this! In the present day we’re getting to know Lu and her friends and what they’ve been through in their lives – they’re are all using their move to France as a fresh start. Then in the late 1700’s we’re getting to know Pierre and his family, as well as experience the French Revolution and it’s outcomes. As Lu is looking into the history, we learn what happened from Pierre’s point of view. I have to confess, as a history fan, I don’t really know anything about the French Revolution (despite the fact that I”m sure we studied it at school but I literally can’t remember anything!). This novel really bought it to life for me and made me want to look into it more – so I’ll be doing some of my own research! The story itself had me intrigued and I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted the chateau to reveal its secrets, and I wasn’t disappointed! I was able to picture the story playing out in my mind like I was watching a film which made it even more real for me. The tale is heartbreaking, eye opening, heartwarming in places and so interesting. I was actually quite disappointed when I finished that the story and mystery was over! I did find that in some places the author seemed to repeat things that I didn’t feel were necessary – especially at the beginning of the book, but this was a minor frustration and I loved the story so much that it didn’t really matter! Despite the fact that it’s told from multiple viewpoints and from different centuries, it’s easy to follow and enjoyable to read. If you’re a fan of historical fiction or want to read a bit of a different mystery, then you should definitely check this out. I’ll most definitely be looking out for more from this author.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Better than okay, but hardly "gripping and heartbreaking". It held my interest, because the characters,especially the present-day ones, were well delineated and I liked most of them. But the book was easy to put down, and the ending was not a surprise. The story has two time lines. The first is present day when five English friends decide to jointly purchase the Chateau d'Aubert in the French Alps and move there. The second time line is the late 1700s, just before and during the French Revolution Better than okay, but hardly "gripping and heartbreaking". It held my interest, because the characters,especially the present-day ones, were well delineated and I liked most of them. But the book was easy to put down, and the ending was not a surprise. The story has two time lines. The first is present day when five English friends decide to jointly purchase the Chateau d'Aubert in the French Alps and move there. The second time line is the late 1700s, just before and during the French Revolution. Pierre Aubert and his much younger wife Catherine are living at the palace of Versailles. Catherine is young and naive (and a bit stupid) and very much wants to fit in with the court and her beloved queen Marie Antoinette. The book alternates between the two times, but it is easy to follow. In the present day, it takes the five friends a while to settle in and their chateau needs a lot of work. But slowly they start to blend, find friends, and start pet projects. Lu is the narrator, and is having the hardest time. She had given up her job as a history teacher to care for her ailing mother, and since her mother's death has been depressed and unsure of what her role is now. Finally she gets interested in the history of their chateau and what happened to the Aubert family. She manages to track down all except Catherine, who seems to have vanished from the records. The daily lives of the friends are a lot of fun to read about. In the alternating chapters, the Auberts flee Versailles to their chateau near a village as the revolution heats up. Catherine gives birth to two children, misses living at the palace, whines a lot, and decides to build her own little "farm" in imitation of the queen's Petit Trianon. But eventually the revolt comes to the countryside, and they must decide how to save themselves and their children as the mob comes closer.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    This is the first book I have read from author Kathleen McGurl and I was not disappointed! After reading the synopsis I was very intrigued by this book, how two stories, two hundred years apart could be told in one book. I was drawn in from the first chapter but wondered if it would be two stories told separately just alternating each chapter, I was soon to see this would not be the case! As the tales unwind and link together you get to know and love the different characters, you feel their sorro This is the first book I have read from author Kathleen McGurl and I was not disappointed! After reading the synopsis I was very intrigued by this book, how two stories, two hundred years apart could be told in one book. I was drawn in from the first chapter but wondered if it would be two stories told separately just alternating each chapter, I was soon to see this would not be the case! As the tales unwind and link together you get to know and love the different characters, you feel their sorrow and pain and feel lifted when good things happen. It is rare that a book brings tears to my eyes but this one succeeded! I wanted to be in the book, there along side the characters, hoping that history wasn’t set in stone. This is a well written enchanting tale, bringing history into a book in a way I haven’t discovered before, but a way that held me captivated right to the last words. A must read for everyone, whatever your taste in books.

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