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An extremely well written story, combining history, geography, haut cuisine, mystery, drama, religion and romance in the most picturesque of settings in Brittany, France.

Frederique Farmer is a young widow who owns and operates an exclusive bed and breakfast establishment at her fifteenth century chateau. She accepts very few guests, and overcharges the ones who pass inspection, but the gourmet meals she serves make it seem like a little piece of heaven. She is assisted only by a graduate student named Severine, who helps out in exchange for room and board.

Her life changes when she finds the journals of Alix de Montet, who was married to the Comte Barenton at the age of thirteen, back in the fifteenth century. Playboy American author Robert Cranwell becomes intrigued by the journals and charms his way into a long stay at the chateau to gather information for the book he intends to write.

The interaction and development of the characters, the vivid descriptions of the food and surroundings, and the excerpts from Alix's Journals make for an enjoyable read, which I highly recommend to you.

Amanda Richards, December 24, 2005
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on September 21, 2006
I must be the only one who didn't think this book was wonderful. The story was nice. I enjoyed the excepts from the 14th century journals. The characters were all right. But Ms. Mitchell's writing kind of set my teeth on edge. It seems that the only thing she ever details are the clothing that everyone is wearing! Instead of just saying, "I went up to my room and changed into black pants and a sweater" she takes up entire paragraphs with descriptions like "I went upstairs and changed into slim, black pants and a black boatneck, high brand name sweater and black shoes that my late husband had purchased for me when we went to Switzerland." She describes Cranwell's clothing obsessively - rust colored courduroy pants, gray courduroy pants, brandy colored turtleneck sweaters that brought out the color of his eyes.... I was beginning to believe that he was gay. It's not that I don't care what everyone is wearing, I was just getting tired of every single situation that these characters found themselves in being bogged down in the details of their clothing! Surely there are more important things in a story like this than the fashion!

As for the story, well, it's typical Christian fiction with different characters and a different setting. What I wouldn't give for some Christian author to break the mold and be daring enough to have their characters do something bold! Instead, the two main characters of 'Chateau', Freddie and Cranwell, do very little except debate theology in the kitchen, cook and take walks. The so-called 'intrigue' on the back of the book is Freddie's assistant, Severine's erratic behavior and obsession with finding a lost artifact that proved the chateau's mistress was Jewish. Freddie starts to notice that little things in her home are coming up missing or being moved in a strange way. That's not intrigue, it's an annoyance. It's also boring.
I noticed that someone described this book as historical fiction. It's not. The excerpts from the 14th century journal are, but the story is not. It takes place in modern time, and aside from the fact that takes place in a castle and one of the characters is writing a historical novel, there is nothing 'historical fiction' about this book.

As I started to write this review, I almost liked this book. I was going to give it three stars. Now that I've considered it a little longer, I've come to the conclusion that I really didn't like this book at all. Sorry to all you readers out there who gave it five stars and thought it was wonderful historical fiction, but I didn't think so. I know you will all probably say that this review isn't helpful and whatnot in anger against my opinion, but that's your opinion. This is how I honestly feel about this book. When I finished it last night, I was half convinced that it was okay, but not great. Now, I really know that I didn't like it, and this book will definitely be in my next garage sale.

LP
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on September 27, 2005
I loved Chateau of Echoes. It's a romance with a touch of mystery, a modern love triangle with a subplot of another, ancient love triangle. The descriptions of the French countryside, and the gourmet meals our heroine creates, help you experience France as a true insider. (The author lived in France and even includes recipes from a chef there.) The heroine is a widow rebuilding her life and she has bought a French estate to open as a bed and breakfast. She has a thick wall around her heart, refusing to believe in love again, or even God. It takes a very unlikely man to break through her defenses and help her find the courage to live and love again.

This book is published by a Christian publisher. The heroine wrestles with questions about faith and God in a very believable way, making this book appropriate for most anyone, including those who are interested in Christianity but not believers. The Christian content is not heavy-handed or condemning, but rather, the stuff we all ask ourselves when struggling to believe and risk after a loss. However, the tone of the book is never weighed down by these questions; it remains an elegant, indulgent read for romance fans.

This is my second Siri Mitchell book to read, the first being Kissing Adrien. Siri is well on the way to being a favorite among modern chicklit/romance readers. If you haven't read Siri's work yet, this book is the perfect place to begin.
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on October 26, 2008
Too Much Information! I got hung up on the details in this book. I didn't need to know every piece of furniture in every room of every floor of the chateau. I didn't need to know every flower and vegetable planted in the garden. I didn't need to know every item of clothing each character wore, or every detail involved in a recipe.

Those details took me out of the story way too often. Siri L. Mitchell is a wonderful storyteller. The story was solid enough as it was and I just kept fading out with paragraph-long descriptions.

Don't get me wrong. I like France. I like food. I like castles. I like Arthurian legends. I like, even love, God.

I'm not so sure about this book.
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VINE VOICEon November 19, 2005
Siri Mitchell writes a charming story combining the ancient past with the present in a very creative manner. She introduces the reader to Frederique Farmer, a relatively young widow, who purchases a Chateau in Brittany after the unexpected death of her husband who worked on assignment for the U.S. State Department. She renovates and furnishes the Chateau with antique decor converting it into an Inn. Frederique graduated from the Cordon Bleu and is a gourmet cook, she prefers to make the meals for her guests herself, along with the help of a French graduate student, Severine, who receives room and board in exhange for her duties at the Inn. Not long after buying the Chateau, a unique discovery in a cellar put the place on the world map, won it fame and recognition among archeologists and researchers interested in Celtic Studies. The discovery was an intact journal from the 15th century, written by Alix de Montot, the wife of the Comte Barenton named Awen de Kertanuan. She was aged 13 when betrothed and married to the Comte. The marriage occured to keep a 200 year old promise made on a battlefield between two families, that their blood line would be combined. The main problem was ... only boys had been the offspring of each family ... until the birth of Alix.

Frederique receives a letter from California from a world reknown author, Robert Cranwell, who wants to rent a room at the Chateau de Kertanuan for six months. Frederique enjoys her independence and is highly selective about her guests, she prefers short visits, and has very exclusive clientele who are famous Parisians from all walks of life. She did an internet search on Robert Cranwell, making judgements about him based on the articles she discovered about his love life, good looks and fame. She discarded the letter and dismissed him as a guest ... that is ... until she received an unexpected phone call and found herself succombing to his overtures and sincerity despite her best judgement to the contrary. He wanted to stay six months but she objected and compromised, agreeing to one month ... In a very intriguing manner, the author develops an approach-avoidance relationship between these two protagonists. This technique keeps the reader wanting to read more about how they interact and work out their feelings. The most fascinating concept in this novel is how the author incorporated the discovery of the 15th century journal, which becomes the basis of their budding friendship. As they spend more time living in close quarters, Frederique finds herself attracted to Robert Cranwell, despite all her misgivings. It is a wonderful reading experience unraveling how her initial mistrust is overcome and how Severine almost destroyed it.

I love how the author alternates chapters, first telling the story from the perspective of Frederique, followed by a chapter describing the life of Alix de Montot, told in her own voice as recorded in her journal between the years, 1459 to 1462 A.D. The author also incorporates legends from the time of King Arthur into the book adding yet another creative twist to an already captivating subject. The two stories, that of Frederique and of Alix de Montot, have a basic theme which connects the past and the present. The theme is discovering love in unexpected and unusual circumstances - Frederique learns this lesson and so does Alix de Montot. Read the fascinating story of how their lives intertwine, despite the many centuries of difference in time. Erika Borsos (erikab93)
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on December 18, 2015
I enjoyed so many things about this novel--the French setting, the mouth-watering descriptions of food, the flower garden descriptions, and the past-present storyline that highlighted two romances.

There were a few elements that I skimmed because they lost my attention: numerous descriptions of clothing (I generally enjoy clothing descriptions, but this described colors and styles of outfits for nearly each character, multiple times), the intricate and lengthy descriptions of furniture, and the more didactic way some of the historical details were presented.

But if you're looking for a novel to take you away and paint vivid pictures in your mind of an intrinsically interesting place (French chateau set in the area where King Arthur may have lived), this is the book for you. While I'm not similar in personality to the main character, Freddie, I did feel we saw the world from her eyes, and that's the mark of a successful deep point of view, if you ask me. Also, the romantic elements in this book were presented so tastefully, yet so compellingly, I knew I had to read to the end to see how both past and present romances played out.

I would definitely recommend this to Christian readers looking for a different type of romance novel in an unforgettable international setting, also to those interested in well-researched historical fiction.
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on September 11, 2015
Freddie bought a chateau in France after her husband was killed. She's fixed it up and uses it sparingly as a bed and breakfast. She has university student staying doing research on a former famous inhabitant who helps her with things. Then a writer asks to come and stay for a month. He is writing a book based on the famous woman. Thus begins a routine that becomes normal with a few strange happenings. Interspersed with the narrative are excerpts from the famous woman's dairy.

Nice, funny clean chicklit.
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on August 1, 2006
It was difficult to turn the last page of Chateau of Echoes and say good bye to all the characters I've gotten to know and love, so few novels have such wonderful character development. But there also was a creative twist to Siri Mitchell's Chateau of Echoes. It was written in the first person, a rarity! We got to know the protagonist from the inside out, not from the outside in. Bravo!

Seri Mitchell's writing style is phenomenal! I was challenged with vocabulary! YAY! She regularly consulted an English, French dictionary, and loved using a thesaurus and a culinary dictionary.

I rarely read a book that I want to share. Chateau of Echoes is one for your library collection. To be shared and enjoyed over and over again.

Enjoy!
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on July 23, 2015
I adore this book. Honestly. I've read it seven times and am rereading it again right now. It's an inexpensive vacation to rural France with all the comforts of home and good food and interesting history. It's also a unique book in that it's not impossible to put down yet is still very interesting, very captivating. I loved the characters, the settings, the history, and the surprise that developed subtlely. One of my favorite books of all time.
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on August 8, 2014
Part Gothic novel, part Christian romance but all well written, page-turning good reading. Freddie has retreated to her quaint historical property in France after her husband dies, not so much to heal her grief but to hide from it. She rents out rooms and cooks delicious meals and leads a quiet life, ignoring God's gentle probings. When a famous playboy author arrives, Freddie needs to re-evaluate her reclusive ways and learn to participate in life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
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