If your knowledge of the Marquis de Lafayette starts and ends with the musical phenomenon Hamilton, you’re going to be thoroughly enlightened and engaged.
The Women of Chateau Lafayette spans three time periods and three wars. It focuses on three powerful women who demonstrated independence, bravery and love – Adrienne de Noailles, wife of the Marquis de Lafayette, Beatrice Astor Chanler and Marthe Simone. The main setting for this sweeping story is Chateau de Chavaniac, the ancestral home of Gilbert du Motier (the Marquis) – later called Chateau Lafayette.
While in their teens, Gilbert and Adrienne marry. Several years later, Gilbert travels to America, aids in the American Revolution, is befriended by George Washington and returns to France a hero. Adrienne’s strength is tested as the French Revolution progresses and their lives are threatened. She seeks refuge at the Chateau.
Beatrice Astor Chanler, a woman of mysterious beginnings, decides not to live the life of a pampered New York socialite as her wealthy husband lives a life of adventure. While visiting France at the start of WWI and being moved by the plight of the soldiers, she returns to America and starts preparing care packages and raising funds for the men at war. She eventually relocates to France to convert Chavaniac into a hospital (preventorium) for children and a home for war orphans.
Marthe Simone is one of the children raised at the castle. Now a grown woman and living at Chavaniac as a teacher, she uses her artist skills to falsify documents and hide Jewish children from the Nazis during WWII. As an orphan, she is searching for her true identity.
This is a long book (close to 600 pages) and with so many characters and time periods, a slower than normal read. But don’t let that keep you from this wonderful book. It is truly an epic saga. Adrienne and Beatrice are historical figures and Marthe is fictional, although the heroism that took place at the Chateau during WWII did occur. Lafayette would have been proud. Author Stephanie Dray weaves together a well-researched, exceptional story that historical fiction fans should love.
Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Women of Chateau Lafayette in advance of its publication.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: March 30, 2021.
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