On yet another wet morning in Yorkshire, Laura, a newly qualified nurse, orphaned at a young age and brought up by her late grandma, is struggling financially and emotionally since the death of her beloved gran. That is, until one morning, when, out of the blue she receives a mysterious letter. With life changing decisions to be made, will Laura take up the challenge of starting a new life in the French sunshine?
Join her on the rollercoaster adventure, as she experiences highs and lows, opens new doors, makes new friends; and enemies along the way. Who can she trust in this unfamiliar country with the secrets that she uncovers? And, how is she going to deal with her belligerent, new neighbour?
So much more than a rags to riches story.
The Letter is the first in The Chateau series written by a debut author. I really enjoyed it!
Laura Mackley is a character I struggled to connect with at first, but as I read further into the story, she grew on me. By the end of the book, I liked her, even though some of her internal monologues made me want to roll my eyes or slap her silly. She is a nurse in England, who receives a letter that changes her life. Inheriting a chateau in France, she finds herself facing many challenges and decisions. As she delves deeper into the history surrounding her inheritance, Laura uncovers a family history previously unknown to her. Will she find her answers?
I don't usually read a lot of women's fiction. However, as I am trying to broaden my reading horizons, after reading the synopsis, I decided to give this book a try.
This story is told through the eyes of Laura. There are a few interesting characters in this book. Xavier is a French farmer, and neighbour to Laura. He comes across as intense and broody. Alice is his elderly mother, who has had a recent hospital stay and required care. Then there is Gus, Xavier's young son. There are a few more characters that make an appearance, which gives the story a nice realistic feel. There's even a piano playing ghost!
I started reading this story but wasn't instantly sucked in. I found it easy to put this book down, do something else, then pick it back up. This doesn't mean that I wasn't enjoying the story. As I said above, my problem lay in liking (or in this case, disliking) the main character. As I read more of the story, I became intrigued with the history of the chateau and Laura's family connection to it. There is a mystery hidden within the pages of this book, but as this is the first book in a series, some mystery remains towards the end. Xavier and Laura seem to have some chemistry, but I'm unsure if it's love or hate. Laura certainly emotes hate, but Xavier is an unknown quantity. It will be interesting to see how their relationship develops.
The author describes the scenes quite well, and this made it easy for me to picture in my mind's eye. Some dialogue feels a little forced, but for the most part, makes the characters come alive. There are a few twists thrown in, and the one near the end completely surprised me. I definitely didn't see that scene coming! Although the story doesn't end in a climatic cliffhanger, it does end on a small one. The author has added a teaser for the second book to tempt the reader into continuing with the series. I will be doing so in the future.
Emma Sharp is a debut author who has written an intriguing story. Her writing is not particularly fast-paced, but it is enough for me to keep turning pages. The story flows well, which makes it more enjoyable too.
Although there are no scenes of violence or any of a sexual nature, I do not recommend this book to younger readers, as I feel they may struggle with it. I do, however, recommend this book to readers of women's fiction, literary humour and romance. - Lynn Worton