The Chapel in the Woods by Susan Louineau is an intriguing read from the beginning. The first three chapters each introduce a different character as they arrive in a small village in the Loire Valley. All three of them are English, but that is where the similarity ends. One is a monk in the Middle Ages travelling under a shadow. One is an SOE (Special Operations Executive) dropped in by parachute during WWII to aid the local resistance and one is a young mother, married to a Frenchman and setting up a new life in the country. These three different stories made for quite a slow start to the book, but I was fascinated trying to work out how the book was going to come together and how the stories would be woven together. As each of the characters adjusts to their new lives their stories begin to unfurl and as the book progresses we see the links between the past and the present coming together. The more I read the more it gripped me and the more I had to read.
There is a good mix of nice and nasty characters, a great respect for the changing of the seasons and some delicious food descriptions too. Even Johnny Hallyday makes a guest appearance. Susan must have spent time living in a rural French village especially with the way she wove realistic French village political problems into the story in all three of the time periods. Susan easily kept my attention from the beginning to the end of the book. The Chapel in the Woods is available in ebook format. The Amazon link is below. Many thanks to Jo Harrison from Writers Block Admin Services for sending me a copy to review.