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Friday, May 7, 2010

Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell

Frederique Farmer was widowed young while she and her husband were on an extended stay in France. So she did what any young widow would do in a foreign country-she bought an old chateau with the intention of becoming a recluse. But things went just the opposite way she intended them to go. When she finds a box of ancient journals written by a girl named Alix, who lived in the Middle Ages, word gets out, and an American author named Robert Cranwell decides he's going to come stay at her chateau while writing a novel about the journals. Freddie does not like the idea of this, yet he comes anyway and seems to do everything possible to drive her crazy. As they together discover the story contained within the journals, their defenses break down when they find that they have a lot in common with the ancient story. Yet they are still unwilling to put aside their differences and let love grow. And it's only a matter of time before Robert leaves...

Despite this seemingly typical plot idea, there are many non typical things about Chateau of Echoes. However, one thing in particular keeps the book from being all it could have been.

Siri Mitchell is a master at characters, period. Frederique and Robert are both imperfect. It's refreshing not to have a perfect male lead in the typical I-hate-you-then-I-love-you relationship. At least through their incompatible personalities, Siri can justify their love-hate relationship. Alix is also an imperfect character, even though she is at first portrayed as a victim. There is nothing wrong with the character department in this book.

Chateau of Echoes

is a past\present plot, which means it alternates between two different plots; one in the past and one in the present. Thankfully, Freddie has no convenient connection to the past she reads about in the journals, and neither does Robert. They are isolated plots, which is the way all past\present plots should be unless the author can invent a very good reason for them to be connected.

The ends to both plots are vastly different. The end to the past plot is realistic, imperfect, and ambiguous. The end to the present plot is unrealistic, mostly perfect, and predictable. The end to Alix's plot is very interesting because it is based on the choices of imperfect characters. The end to Freddie's plot could have definitely been better, yet there is one good aspect.

All in all, Chateau of Echoes barely missed the five star mark because of the present plot. Yet I expect Siri Mitchell to do great things in the future.

4.5 stars

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