cover image The Women of Chateau Lafayette

The Women of Chateau Lafayette

Stephanie Dray. Berkley, $27 (576p) ISBN 978-1-984802-12-5

Three women survive various wars in this ambitious, centuries-spanning outing from Dray (My Dear Hamilton). In 1774, Gilbert du Motier, a marquis, marries Adrienne. A few years later, he travels to America to join the American Revolution and returns to France a hero. But the shifting winds of the French Revolution require sacrifice and bravery from Adrienne, who attempts to find safety in their newly built Château de Chavaniac. In 1914, Beatrice Astor Chanler, a former actor with a mysterious past, hurries to France to visit her estranged, millionaire husband. When WWI breaks out, she narrowly escapes back to the U.S. and starts an aggressive fund-raising effort to support the war. On several subsequent trips to France during the war, she starts a love affair with a French soldier, demands a divorce, and converts Chavaniac into a clinic for children at risk from tuberculosis. Marthe Simone grew up in the chateau as an orphan and teaches there. Following the death of her fiancé in 1942 and attracted to a baron’s daughter, Marthe places herself in grave danger by deciding to forge identity papers to rescue Jews from Nazis. 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. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Mar.)