Reviewed by Debs Carr
It’s 1792 and Madeleine Moreau is working as a teacher at her parents’ Academy for Young Ladies in London where she meets, and argues with, Comte Etienne d’Aubrey, a friend of her father. Soon after, Madeleine’s parents are killed and everything she held familiar is lost. Determined to get away from the reminders of what her life once was, she goes to France to find the family her father always refused to discuss.
Travelling with Madeleine is her best-friend, Sophie, desperate to escape from her violent husband for a while. They arrive at Comte d’Aubrey’s chateau and he offers the women his grandmother’s house for the period of their stay in France. They fall in love with the beautiful house built by a lake near to the chateau and both women gratefully accept his kind offer and settle in. Madeleine and Sophie become friends with the Comte and his closest friend and estate manager, Jean-Luc Viard, and the foursome enjoy happy evenings together. However, all is not as it seems, they learn that the Comte is recovering from tragedies of his own and Madeleine hears rumours about his past that trouble her greatly. She and Sophie soon realise they have to watch everything they say and that all their lives are in constant danger.
I loved reading the descriptive story as Madeleine and those around her struggled to cope with the brutality committed by the revolutionaries and the insidious behaviour committed by those you least expected it from. As I read, I had a constant sense that although the life at the chateau was lived in beautiful surroundings, the undertone of violence and death was never far away.
This romantic, but sometimes shocking story was a thoroughly enjoyable read.