March 30, 2021
The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction (French Revolution, WW1, WW11), France, Women, Biographical
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Thanks #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads for my complimentary e ARC of #TheWomenOfChateauLafayette for review. All opinions are my own.
A real castle in France, Chateau Lafayette, connects three women: noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette (wife of Gilbert Lafayette); New York socialite and actress Beatrice Astor Chanler; and French school teacher, aspiring artist, and orphan Marthe Simone. After having been the home of the Lafayette’s, the castle became a refuge for orphan children during two world wars.
Chateau Lafayette (Source: Wikipedia)
Research and Writing: Stephanie Dray is a dependable and popular historical fiction author who puts the history in histfic. Readers expect her ambitious work to be well-researched, thoughtful, and engaging. The Women of Chateau Lafayette does not disappoint! It helped me to take notes in the beginning because the substantial and complex story could have been three separate books, jumping between three very different characters (two based on real people and one fictional), a great deal of historical detail, and three very different time periods. If you’re looking for rich and dense historical fiction, you will be pleased with this story! Although I need to admit that at times my eyes glazed over trying to comprehend the details and political intrigue of the French Revolution! If you find the first half of the book slow going as you become familiar with the characters and settings, you will be pleased that the second half of the book picks up the pace and intensity.
There were a few times that I had to roll my eyes by some modern thinking that was tossed in (one of my pet peeves in historical fiction). One quote: “She made a good argument, though no one ever told a brave husband and father that he must not risk his life. Men like my husband were allowed–may, encouraged–to do great deeds. No one ever asked Willie. But who’s looking after the children when you’re gone?” This seems like modern thinking and a bit anachronistic for a woman in the early years of the 1900s. Does it appear that way to you?
Characters: Stephanie Dray brings us the untold and inspiring stories of three women. Each is well drawn and admirable for her own reasons. Adrienne is a loyal and devoted wife and becomes a true partner with her husband, Lafayette, in every way. She shares his ideals, hosts huge gatherings to support the cause, is clever and brave, and makes incredible sacrifices. Beatrice is brave (making several ocean crossings during WW1…although I wondered about leaving her children for so long when the father wasn’t in the picture), uses her wealth and social standing to further her work with the orphanage, and loves her hats! Marthe is the fictional character (based on a historical composite) in the story. As a young child, she was placed in the orphanage and grew up there. Now (during WW11) she teaches there and is an aspiring artist in her spare time. Her bravery and actions to protect the orphans is remarkable. In addition, her marriage will surprise you! (***spoiler: it is my favorite relationship in the story!) Chateau Lafayette needs to be considered a character also as it connects and holds the entire story together. Don’t miss the author’s notes.
Adrienne Lafayette (source: Wikipedia)
Beatrice Chanler (Source: Wikipedia)
Themes: Thoughtful themes throughout the story include marriage relationships, bravery, family life, independence, and sacrifice.
Recommended: The Women of Chateau Lafayette is an ambitious and substantial read and highly recommended for historical fiction fans who like their reads heavy on the history, for readers who love untold stories of brave, independent women, and for book clubs.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5)
Meet the Author, Stephanie Dray
STEPHANIE DRAY is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. She lives near the nation’s capital with her husband, cats, and history books.
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