Monday, 25 September 2006

Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell

5 stars

Siri Mitchell's character driven book tantalises the senses and challenges the mind with a beautiful portrayal of a women given a second chance at life and love in the picturesque north of France.

Frederique Farmer finds herself suddenly widowed while residing in Paris and in a desperate attempt to reinvent herself buys Chateau de Kertanuan, a fifteenth century castle in Brittany, which she painstakingly restores. She establishes an exclusive Bed and Breakfast, revelling in her newfound mastery as a cook of french cuisine and reclusive lifestyle. During the restoration process Freddie discovers a medieval chest containing journals written from 1459 to 1462 by a young woman, Alix de Montot, a former comtesse of the castle, which attracts the attention of celebrity author, Robert Cranwell. Cranwell wishes to write a book regarding the life of the comtesse while residing in the castle where she lived centuries before. Freddie has carefully constructed walls around her heart and despite fearing the intrusion of Cranwell and disbelieving the rumours of his recent conversion, agrees to a six month stay.

Freddie and Cranwell slowly become acquainted simply by their proximity but the relationship is hindered by Freddie's prejudiced view of his character and Cranwell's struggle to break free from his past self-indulgent lifestyle. A centuries old mystery surfaces and intrigue soon envelopes them as unexplained happenings and deliberate sabotage affect the Chateau, their fledgling relationship and faith journey.

The author lived in France for many years and her knowledge of the culture and cuisine give the book authenticity and fascinating detail. The excerpts of Alix's journal throughout the book are both enlightening and charming, giving the story a unique feel


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