Book review: Kathleen McGurl, The Secret of the Château

The Secret of the Chateau

The Secret of the Chateau Cover

The Secret of the Château

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…

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As a huge fan of the Versailles series, and having been lucky enough to visit the palace itself when I was younger, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. We have two time periods, and a number of voices, but we’re led by Lu, in the present day, then Catherine, Pierre and Claudette in the 1700s. I found the device of using first person for Lu’s modern voice, compared to the third person of the historical chapters, really worked well to carry the distinction, although even if it hadn’t been there, the voices were definitely of their era, with Catherine especially entrenched in the idea of monarchy, and the elite. The horror she felt at having to leave the luxurious royal palace for their country manor was brought across brilliantly, and if anything even more interesting when history has shown us that actually, Versailles wasn’t nearly as glamourous as we would all love to imagine…

But back to the story. In the present day, Lu, her husband and friends head to the chateau the Auberts were running to, buying it as a retirement project / escape, and feeling slightly disconnected to her new home, she begins to research their new home. Gradually, the story of the chateau comes to life, all beginning with the spotting of a mystery window in the turret.

Let’s be honest, even without the mystery and the historical elements, this would have been an addictive read for me, as I’ve always loved the idea of running away over the Channel, and to a chateau? Well, that would be the icing on the cake!

I would definitely recommend this for a holiday read, whether that’s over in France itself, when we can finally get away again, or even a home-based staycation. It’s pacey, and a real page-turner, and once I absolutely loved.

About Kathleen

The Stationmasters Kathleen McGurl author photo

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.

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