Friday, 29 June 2012

Hip Hip Hurray - It's Finally on!

Hello peeps! Happy Friday!
I can't actually remember if I mentioned anywhere, but I decided that I was going to do a little bit more for readers, as a lot of my blog is writing tips and stuff.  So, I decided to launch some new features on the blog. The first of these, starting today is BOOK REVIEWS. Now, as I am currently writing The Dating Game, I don't actually have a lot of time to read and it took me three weeks to read this book, which if I could have switched off from everything else, I would have devoured in a day/day and a half.
So, who is the first author whose book I am reviewing, I hear you ask?
None other than Susan Louineau - author of The Chapel in the Woods.   NB: the Click bit doesn't work on this blog - you need to go to Amazon link at the bottom of the review)

The Chapel in the Woods
Here's the blurb first of all from Amazon:-
When Diana Lescure moves with her young family to the tiny village of Saint Gabriel in the depths of France, it is clear that not all is well amongst its inhabitants. As she settles into her country idyll she uncovers a menace that has shrouded the villagers for generations. Through a 12th century monk and a British agent in WW2 the story of a secret society unfolds.

Now, interestingly, only now, do I realise that I didn't read the blurb for this novel before buying it. I saw promotional tweets on Twitter which intrigued me and I read some of the reviews (something I don't often do)
SO, here are my thoughts.
I don't normally read historical novels and although it is a historical novel, it's also set in present-day France too.I liked the flashbacks to Helene, the war and the Resistance and further back to Clothilde and the monk. I used to live in France and can totally relate to the French 'machism', also the way villagers treat an outsider (although I won them over in the end). To find out if the same happens to Diana, you're going to have to read the book!

It was easy to imagine the contemporary locations; Diana's home in the country, the fields where she went riding, the school, the school bus picking up her son, the epicerie where she sold her wares. It was equally easy to visualise the characters, Diana herself initially annoyed me a little by taking on such a subservient role to her husband, such as is expected in France, but it was clear that she wasn't happy with that role.

Michaud struck a definite positive chord with me and I hated the mayor and Liselle with a vengeance and also Diana's husband. The chatelain and chateau scenes were also very well depicted. 
This novel is full of strong heroines and heroes. Strength of character is a theme running throughout.

Helene, another strong character, I thought was maybe a little too trusting, but she fell in love. She's fallible and it makes you realise that these brave people who were fighting for France, were at the end of the day just ordinary souls. I was also shocked by her actions, but again this showed her tremendous courage

Clothilde and the lengths she went to to help the monk, and vice versa, would restore anyone's faith in human nature and make you realise how easy we have it now!
I had guessed at Clothilde's outcome, but only because of Ms Louineau's subtle earlier clue.

There are many obstacles to be overcome, both in the two historical time periods and in the current day and the strands of these three epochs are cleverly woven together. I only caught on to some of them very close to the end and others totally shocked me.

To sum up this is a novel of suspense, intrigue, secret societies, love, belief, courage, fighting for what's right, betrayal, friendship, adapting to circumstances and finally not taking things at face value. And quite frankly I have probably missed a few things out. There is so much going on.
I was glad I spent 3 weeks reading this in the end, as it meant I could really savour it.

I dare you not to enjoy this book!  Hope to see another book from Ms Louineau soon....

You can pick up The Chapel in the Woods from Amazon here - (UK) & (US & other .com)

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