In Le Chateau, Sarah Ridout’s evocation of the sights, sounds, scent and mystique of Southern France will be the envy of many authors.
Le Chateau Synopsis:
What really happened at the Chateau?
When Charlotte regains consciousness after an accident, she finds herself living a stranger’s life. The previous five years are a blank, and her husband, Henri, and daughter, Ada, are strangers. Arriving at their family chateau in southern France, she hopes to regain her memories. Instead she feels isolated and unsettled. Strange events hint at underlying darkness and menace. Charlotte doesn’t know who to trust.
Did she really have an affair with their charming Irish neighbour, as her enigmatic mother-in-law suggests? And what of Henri? He seems loving and kind, a good parent, but Charlotte is wary. Then there is Ada, a little girl who just wants her mother back.
With the help of her friend and fellow Australian Susannah, Charlotte starts to piece together events, but her newfound confidence is shaken with news that puts a deadline on her quest…
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Le Chateau is a first-class ticket to the south of France — Ridout’s talent for immersive description and evocation of the sights, sounds, scent and mystique of a region steeped in history will be the envy of many authors. That the author has lived and breathed this location and the expatriate experience and carried out extensive research on those that did so in the past, shines bright from this novel’s pages.
Comparisons to the work of gothic doyens du Maurier and Morton set a lofty benchmark, but I felt Ridout’s modern-day dramatic interpretation of the genre was generally well-executed. That said, on occasion, the planting of clues lacked the subtlety of those masters and I felt greater investment in the ensemble characters could have added more weight and complexity to the mystery.
While I did not have the requisite knowledge of David Bowie‘s music to fully appreciate the value of Ridout’s many song references, I thought the concept of using music as a bridge to lost memories and feelings (similar to the approach used by Graeme Simsion in The Best of Adam Sharp) was an excellent one.
Armchair travellers and fans of sinister undertones will find Le Chateau by Sarah Ridout a captivating weekend read.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5 — Overall 3.75
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Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Romance, Drama
About the Author, Sarah Ridout
Sarah Ridout has a Masters in Creative Writing (First Class Honours), from the select University College Dublin (UCD). UCD is the alma mater of James Joyce, John McGahern, Neil Jordan, Colm Tóibín, and Emma Donoghue, among others. Over the past eleven years, she has lived in four countries with her husband and two children. Her eight years surrounded by the vineyards and chateaus of southern France produced a baby, family of Francophiles, and the seed of this novel, completed in Dublin, Ireland. Le Chateau draws on her experiences as an expatriate, her knowledge of France, its people and customs. Check out Sarah’s website.
* My receiving a copy of Le Chateau from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.