Summary and book reviews of The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

The Women of Chateau Lafayette

by Stephanie Dray

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray X
The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray
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  • Published:
    Mar 2021, 576 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy.

Most castles are protected by men. This one by women.

A founding mother...

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette's political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary...
1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing—not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what's right.

A reluctant resistor...
1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan's self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and powerfully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we take from those who came before us.

One
MARTHE

Chavaniac-Lafayette
The Free Zone
October 1940

I've almost made it, I think, pedaling my bicycle faster when I see the castle's crenelated tower at the summit. I've ridden past yellowing autumn farmland, past the preventorium's dormitories for boys, and past the terra-cotta-roof-topped houses of the village. And despite blistered feet and scuffed saddle shoes, I'm feeling cocky.

As I near the castle proper, I'm no longer worried anyone is going to take what I've carried all this way, which is probably why I'm so surprised to see Sergeant Travert's old black Citro'n parked by the village fountain.

Malchance! What shit luck.

Sergeant Travert patrols our village every evening on his way home. For some reason the gendarme is early today, and having stalled out his jalopy, he's got the hood up to repair it.

I try to ride past, but he notices and waves me over.

My heart sinks as Travert approaches, doffing his policeman's cap, then resting his hand on his holstered pistol. "What ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Which heroine's story did you enjoy reading the most? Which one inspired you the most or made you the most emotional? Which heroine do you most identify with?
  2. Of Adrienne's many acts of courage, which one stands out in your memory the most? What do you think you would have done in her place?
  3. In what ways can Adrienne be considered our French Founding Mother? And in what ways was Adrienne weaker or stronger than her war hero husband?
  4. Beatrice Chanler was the wife of a millionaire. She could have stayed out of both world wars if she'd wanted to. Why did she fling herself into the war relief effort? And why did she feel so obligated to help children?
  5. How would you describe Beatrice's relationship with her husband, Willie Astor Chanler? ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Dray's writing remains vivid from start to finish, but in the latter half there's less reflection and more movement. I wanted to know more about these women, and wondered if Dray would have been better off writing separate novels about each and including some of the information she chose to omit. In addition, I found the narrative's use of brief chapters to be disorienting. Those criticisms aside, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is historical fiction at its finest; each of the three stories is excellently crafted and contains a wealth of detail aficionados of the genre will enjoy...continued

Full Review (717 words).

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(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

O, the Oprah Magazine
[R]iveting…We can learn from Adrienne, Beatrice, and Marthe's stories, even as we're swept away.

Manhattan Book Review
What blew me away was not [the women's] strength—I've read more than enough novels and seen enough of the world to know how strong women are — but how distinct they are. They aren't just any three women; Stephanie Dray has breathed life into her protagonists…I loved sinking into this book, and anyone who enjoys historical fiction will as well.

BookPage (starred review)
Dray poignantly reminds us of the undervalued contributions of women throughout history.

Publishers Weekly
Three women survive various wars in this ambitious, centuries-spanning outing from Dray...While Dray often rushes into summary of the first two women's narratives, the high emotions and careful plotting of Marthe's story compensates. Historical fiction fans will want to take a look.

Library Journal
Dray uses lavish historical detail in this extensively researched, sweeping novel. Recommended for fans of Edward Carey's Little and the works of Michelle Moran.

Booklist (starred review)
Expert storytelling…highly recommended, sure to appeal to fans of women's fiction, WWII-era historical fiction, and the musical Hamilton.

Author Blurb Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names
If it's the details that bring historical fiction alive, Stephanie Dray has not only painted the most vivid world imaginable, but she has quite nearly created a veritable time machine to the past. The Women of Chateau Lafayette shines with her incredibly meticulous research, and against that masterfully built backdrop, she has placed three extraordinary women, each fighting her own battle in a different war, whose lives are connected in ways that will make your heart soar. You'll be mesmerized by this sprawling, epic, masterful tale of love, heartbreak, strength, and duty, all set across a century and a half of riveting French and American history. The fascinating Author's Note at the end is the final dusting of sugar on this complex, unforgettable French treat.

Author Blurb Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Secret
Just dazzling! Three women, three wars, one French chateau and a whole lot of heroism: The Women of Chateau Lafayette is quite simply breathtaking in its scope and accomplishment. Prepare to be swept away to France and beyond by a master storyteller.

Author Blurb Susan Meissner, author of The Nature of Fragile Things
Prepare to be swept away by utterly masterful storytelling. Stephanie Dray's The Women of Chateau Lafayette abounds with wartime intrigue, superb historical detail, and unforgettable women of courage you won't soon forget, nor should you. A captivating page-turner from first word to last.

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Beyond the Book

The Woman's Peace Party

WPP delegates to International Congress of Women, 1915 In The Women of Chateau Lafayette, New York socialite and war supporter Beatrice Ashley Chanler is often at odds with the Woman's Peace Party (WPP), an organization that opposed war in general and the United States' entry into World War I in particular.

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, sparking a conflict that eventually involved many of the major countries on the planet. People in the US quickly started taking a stand on whether or not the nation should enter the fray. Pacifist organizations began arising, often led by women who had already been active in social organizations.

The WPP began in New York in August 1914, when a group of prominent socialites met at the Hotel McAlpin to plan a women's anti-war ...

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