Suddenly widowed in a foreign country, Frederique Farmer did what any girl would do: She bought a castle. She just never imagined that its mysterious fifteenth-century owner would hold the keys to her second chance at life. When an extensive, painstaking restoration of the chateau reveals an ancient treasure, Frederique kisses her reclusive life good-bye. She opens an exclusive bed-and-breakfast, hires a capricious graduate student, and gets talked into hosting a handsome American for an extended stay. Little does the gourmand know, she’s unwittingly concocted a recipe for intrigue, romance, and possibly disaster.
Q&A about the stories behind Chateau of Echoes.
Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.
But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a speaker and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.
Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.
In the afterword, Siri Mitchell states that Chateau of Echoes is her favorite novel. I have to concur. I have read several by Mitchell, all I loved, but there is just something about Chateau of Echoes that makes it stand out from the rest. This novel is complex: it has a story within a story and that story includes stories as well!
Frederique Farmer is the owner of a chateau in Brittany that was once the home to Alix, a medieval chatelaine. Frederique chose the remote location to hide from the world and God. It is a wonder her inn is in such demand, since she turns down more reservations than she actually agrees to. But the rare diaries of a medieval noblewoman found on the estate, thrust Frederique’s life into the world of academics, tourists and, in particular, one famous author. Alix’s journal entries are introduced between the scenes of Frederique’s life. The two are very different women, yet the growth of their characters are paralleled.
The characters are well-developed and the setting itself, the chateau and the surrounding estate, also becomes somewhat of a character allowing the reader to be a part of both Frederique and Alix’s worlds. Mitchell is adept in presenting the present day French culture as well as life in medieval Brittany. There is also an element of mystery surrounding Alix and the Arthurian legends Alix’s husband shares that maintains a wonderful tension to the story. But it is the developing relationship between Frederique and her guest, author Robert Cranwell, that will leave those who favor romance quite satisfied.
While all of Mitchell’s novels are excellent, if you can only read one, choose Chateau of Echoes. But be sure not to stop there — Siri Mitchell is an author you don’t want to miss.
(I purchased Chateau of Echoes for my Kindle. The opinions are mine alone.)