Thursday, 7 May 2015

Review: 'The Chateau on the Lake' by Charlotte Betts

I'm really happy to be on the book tour for another fun book brought to you by Piatkus. This time I'm bringing you The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Betts, which has a stunning cover. Thanks to Piatkus for providing me with a copy of the book.
1792. As a teacher at her parents' Academy for Young Ladies in the heart of London, Madeleine Moreau has lived her life sheltered from the outside world. But on the night of a dazzling Masquerade, tragedy strikes and she is left alone in the world. Desperate to find the family she never knew, Madeleine impulsively travels to France in search of them. But with war around the corner, and fearing for Madeleine's safety, the enigmatic Comte Etienne d'Aubery offers her shelter at his home, Chateau Mirabelle.
Chateau Mirabelle enchants Madeleine with its startling beauty, but it is a place of dark and haunting secrets. As the Revolution gathers momentum and the passions of the populace are enflamed, Madeleine must take control of her own destiny and unravel events of the past in order to secure a chance at future happiness.
The Chateau on the Lake is a breath-taking historical novel set during the time of the French Revolution; rich, evocative and immersive. If you love Philippa Gregory and Joanne Harris, you will adore Charlotte Betts.
This period in history was a fascinating one. There was so much happening in Europe, with every country there nervously watching France, and a whole number of fascinating people was alive. I loved the fact that Madeleine was part of the educated group and got to mingle with some of those people. A casual mention of Mary Wollstonecraft had me squealing just the smallest bit. Having a heroine who is is so determined and decided to follow her own path is one of the novel's major strengths. Madeleine has to deal with the tragic loss of her parents after which the life she dreamed of dissolves and she is left fending for herself. I liked the different obstacles that Betts throws in her character's way, while never forgetting the challenges the time period would have for a woman. Betts really tries to keep the detail of the time period correct and although at times I thought it had to bow to the narrative, I really enjoyed being immersed in this period.

The Chateau on the Lake is an interesting mix between Pride & Prejudice, in tone, and the stories of Cinderella and Bluebeard. We have mysterious castles, there is cruel family and there are main characters who aren't quite sure they actually like each other initially. I loved the infusion of different types of stories into the novel. Romances are not books I typically pick up because the covers scare me off at times. I'm not sure there could've been a better book to bring me back in the genre because The Chateau on the Lake is not overly cliche when it comes to the romance. Betts doesn't shy away from showing the consequences of the French Revolution, of having her characters learn things the hard way and have some harsh scenes in her book. It means that the book isn't overly fluffy.

I do wonder where the trend of first-person narratives started and why it become so popular. I am still not a very big fan of it, since the form restricts the reader to getting to know just one character. When authors use omniscient narrators they are able to approach the narrative from different points of view and amp up the tension for the reader that way. If they keep you with one character, there is a lot of pressure on that one character to be interesting enough to carry the whole novel. Unfortunately many characters aren't. Although Madeleine is very interesting, I would've enjoyed seeing, or hearing rather, more from the other characters.

About the author:
Charlotte Betts began her working life as a fashion designer in London. A career followed in interior design, property management and lettings.
Always a bookworm, Charlotte discovered her passion for writing after her three children and two step-children had grown up.
I give this book...

4 Universes!

The Chateau on the Lake was a nice romance read with a fascinating historical background. What really lifted this novel up for me is was Betts detailred retelling of an incredibly interesting time in European history, while not neglecting her characters' development. I would recommend this to fans of romance and historical fiction.

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