When Diana Lewis and her husband, Simon, go to view a small chateau on an estate in France, Diana feels she has come home. The renovated chateau is charming and the other residents are pleasant and friendly.The chateau, however, has a tragic WWII history and the story of the chateau's wartime owner, Philippe de Lusignac, touches Diana's heart. After buying the chateau, she discovers evidence of a long-hidden secret which leads her to the truth of those dreadful events - a murder and a murderer.Gradually, Diana learns of the loves, betrayals, lies and secrets that are interwoven among the residents of the chateau's gated community, and their links to the estate's terrible history. Past and present, changing the future - even her own, when Simon wants to drag everything into the daylight. What is left, when all of the truths come out?
I couldn't believe how much emotion this book stirred in me whilst reading it. Patricia Halliday has written "The Harvest of Betrayal" with compassion, sentiment and intensity whilst incorporating an engaging and compelling storyline.
The first part of the book concentrates on happily married Diana and Simon Lewis buying a small chateau in France that unbeknown to them has a tragic past stemming from WW2. Diana wants to learn the history of the chateau and its former owner and in doing so sets off a heartbreaking chain of events that will change her life forever. She discovers evidence that the Germans took control of the chateau during wartime and unearths a long hidden secret of unjustified murder and monumental heartbreak. We then move on to learn of her neighbours lives and their pasts who own the six houses built on the driveway leading up to the chateau. Each family have their own individual story to tell, many heartbreaking, some surprising some even heroic, but it is here when we hear of Veronique's story of the French resistance and the escape line connected to the chateau that the emotions truly set in. Without realising I had tears flowing down my cheeks and I can safely say a book has NEVER done that - I've felt tearful, choked and saddened before - but never been reduced to crying. Although the book is a work of fiction we all know these tragedies did occur during the war and really can evoke powerful emotions.
It's when Simon, a struggling author decides to write the story, that Diana's world starts to crumble, how can she stop the tragic story being published that will effect so many lives in the village and at what cost to her once stable marriage.
I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages, I LOVED it and without a doubt I will remember this story for a very long time.
An outstanding 5 stars!
A wonderfully sensitive story. Ms Halliday's knowledge and love of France communicates itself warmly, and her characters are compelling, both the good-natured and the selfish. The intricate weaving of past and present into a seamless narrative is masterly. The gradual revelation of the threads which bind the characters is both intriguing and satisfying, inviting energetic page-turning. I loved it. This debut novel wll hopefully be followed by others.
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