Chateau of Secrets

Written by Melanie Dobson
Review by Kathryn Johnson

Dobson’s latest historical novel for Christian imprint Howard Books features an appealing dual timeframe. In 1940 Normandy, young noblewoman Gisele Duchant waits in fear as Nazi invaders close in on her home, the Chateau d’Epines. Even more terrifying than the realization that these monsters will soon occupy the rooms she’s grown up in and cherishes is her worry that they will discover the French resistance fighters she shelters in the tunnels below the mansion. But it’s her decision to save the baby of her missing Jewish friend by pretending the child is her own which places her in direst danger.

In counterpoint to Gisele’s tale of defiance to Hitler’s minions is the journey of her granddaughter, 70 years later. Chloe Sauver, disturbed and confused by her politician fiancé’s postponement of their engagement, flees Virginia to travel to her ancestral home. She knows nothing of the secrets that her family has kept since World War II, nothing of the daring escapades her beloved grandmother was once involved in. The old chateau reminds her of the fantastical Narnia stories her Meme once read to her, never hinting at her own dark secrets or “magical” cupboards. On a mission to discover the truth, she searches the ancient estate, turning up one clue after another until she lays bare the family’s grim secrets – despite personal risk.

The novel is smoothly structured, moving back and forth between Gisele’s third-person perspective and Chloe’s first-person narrative. Each young woman is as intrepid as the other, dealing with the challenges of her time. Along the way, Chloe also must sort out her love life – deciding whether to mend her relationship with her fiancé or welcome a new love into her life. A satisfying read with two remarkable heroines.