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  • Three Strong Women With Compelling Stores

    Gripping historical fiction about three strong women, all connected to the childhood home of Gilbert du Motier, better known as the Marquis de Lafayette, that same French general who helped Americans win The Revolutionary War (aka "the Lancelot of the revolutionary set" from Hamilton: The Musical). Each of the three women has a compelling story: 1. Adrienne is Lafayette's wife. An intelligent and fierce heroine, she shares her husband's passion for freedom, fights behind the scenes to promote it (in revolutions in both America and France), and sacrifices repeatedly for her family and principles. 2. Beatrice Chanler is a 20th century socialite, who rises from rags to riches by marrying the wealthy William Chanler. Both are actual historical figures. Despite her showgirl background, Beatrice becomes known for her active role in helping France during the early years of World War I and for encouraging the United States to enter that war. 3. Marte Simone, the only one of the three women who is fictitious, is teaching at a school housed at the old Lafayette chateau in 1940. As the war unfolds, she is forced to decide whether to hang onto her lifelong commitment to self-preservation or put the safety of others ahead of her own. All three stories are related, as they usually are when artists employ this "multiple-stories" device in novels. But the connection doesn't matter as much in this one. Each story is captivating on its own and you won't spend time trying to figure out the "big mystery." So, why didn't I give it five stars? One small reason and one big one: • The small one is a few passages where characters hit you on the head with over-the-top political statements that are completely unnecessary. For example, the novel ends with one about the nature of war. Fortunately, there are not THAT many of these show-stoppers. • The bigger reason is that as much as I enjoyed reading the book, and as interesting as each story was, frankly, the book felt LONG at times. 576 pages in the standard edition. I can't help but think it would have been stronger with a bit more judicious editing.

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  • Great story about generations of strong women

    I loved this story of the women throughout history who have worked to preserve the home of Lafayette, both as a means of preserving history and also as a useful shelter for those in need. Adrienne's courage in holding her family together through the terror of the French Revolution was remarkable, and her journey was harrowing. Beatrice's daring plans and take-charge personality were a force to be reckoned with as she established the Lafayette fund to help soldiers in World War I and then opened an orphanage in the crumbling chateau. Marthe seems to be the most pragmatic--loving her home and friends at the chateau, but just wanting to get out into the world and to keep her head down and survive World War II. However, she has a hard choice to make when confronted with the Nazi abuses of those around her. The descriptions of all three time periods and the major personalities involved were so good. I could tell the author had researched everything down to the last detail. Yet, it wasn't a dry history lesson. Each character's story was fraught with danger, uncertainty, love, and heartbreak so it kept me turning the page to see what would happen next. The home of Lafayette is definitely a special place, and the women who have sustained it are a special kind of people. I was given an ARC by the publisher to read for review.

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  • Dray is a master at her craft!

    Wow! The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray is a long book rich in details and historical facts. Make sure you have time to really dig into this fantastic piece of Historical Fiction before you crack the cover or start up your eReader. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by all the people and places since I really don’t know much about France during 1774, but after a few chapters Dray’s style of writing allows the reader to quickly grasp the facts and names of the time period. And Dray’s ability to make the history of all three time periods come alive really is astounding. You can tell that Dray really delves into the subject matter that she writes about, as shown time and time again with her previous historical fiction books that have received lots of recognition. If you love historical fiction, you’ve probably already read books by Dray, and have this one on your TBR. But even if you don’t read a lot of this genre I would still highly recommend giving The Women of Chateau Lafayette a try since Dray is a master at her craft.

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  • French resilience

    I received a free electronic ARC of this historical novel from Netgalley, Stephanie Dray, and Berkley Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Stephanie Dray breathes life and heart into these characters, many modeled on historical figures from this place, this time. We visit Chateau LaFayette in Chavaniac, France in three different time periods, and watch as it is transformed from a pastoral feudal retreat, large but not grand, into a self-sufficient preventorium and school housing many many children, many of them orphans, away from the death and destruction of war-torn Europe. In 1774 gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette and her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette, are actively supporting the French government's support and backing in the fight for American independence. With Europe embroiled in The Great War in 1914, we follow New York socialite Beatrice Chanler who, after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, takes on a reluctant President Wilson and faces the burden of convincing America to repay the French who backed our own independence by coming to their aid as the Nazis strip France of its resources, it's laws, it's pride, and it's people. In 1940 French artist Marthe Simone, an orphan raised at the school in Chavaniac and now teaching there has an orphan's self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of the Nazi occupation transform her life even in the isolated castle where she came of age, she understands that France under any other form of government would never again be home. Only with the heart and grit of every Frenchman left can France survive and recover.

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  • guardians of the castle

    Three women in different periods of time are the guardians of the castle known as Chateau Lafayette. During times of war, they hold secrets, save children, and believe in the freedom of France. A compelling read of fiction-based-on-fact, these women, Adrienne, Beatrice, and Marthe, remind us of France's motto of liberty, equality, and fraternity, though in this case, it should be sorority. **received an ARC from the publisher**

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