BOOK CLUB: The French Wife

Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Head of Zeus for the opportunity to read The French Wife by Diney Costeloe.

The book is set in France and England in 1876. The story takes us into the lives of the families who have wealth, and those who are employed by them.

It is a story of love, betrayal, hope, misunderstandings, danger and overcoming adversity.

There are some lovely characters.. plus some villains.  The book has everything you could want in a historical romance story.

It is a sequel to Children of the Siege. It is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy the second, as it is well written and easy to follow.

The book begins with Agathe Zauze, a housekeeper at the Clergy House who has been asked to leave. Minus Agathe’s presence, her young assistant Annette is mistreated and escapes. Worried about their future employment, Agathe approaches Madame Rosalie St Clair to assist them.

Their paths had previously crossed during the Revolution when Agathe and Annette had helped and saved her daughter Helene.  Short-staffed and with her eldest daughter’s wedding approaching, Madame St Clair employs them both to work at the families country home in Belair.

Rupert Chalfont is the youngest son of Sir Philip Chalfont, an English baronet. He has somewhat of a reputation with the ladies and has to make a hasty retreat from London to avoid a scandal. Luck had smiled on him – he had briefly made the acquaintance of Lucas Barrineau, who on liking Rupert had impulsively invited him to his wedding in France. Once in Paris Rupert telegrams Lucas to accept the wedding invitation.

Lucas Barrineau is marrying Clarice St Clair.

Inviting a stranger, an Englishman, who they knew nothing about was not well received in the Barrineau home. It also puzzled the St Clair family, they needed to organize an extra place at the reception. While the two mothers worried about their younger daughters and the handsome Englishman, at the same time Lucas was optimistically wondering if there would be any sisters!

As Lucas saw Clarice for the first time at the wedding, he thought he had never seen such a beautiful girl. Then he saw the elder of the two bridesmaids Helene….she stole his heart! He suspected she could be Clarice’s sister and was desperate to find out more about her. While lingering to see if he could see her again, they meet.

They are able to spend time together, suitably chaperoned, during the reception.  Rupert is a changed man, he has met his first true love.  Helene is very taken with this handsome Englishman. He extends his stay and asks to court Helene. Reluctantly her father allows it. This displeases Simon Barnier, as he has his own plans to marry Helene.

Rupert is unexpectedly called back to England after a family tragedy. He promises to return as soon as he can, Helene promises to wait for him. It is in a time of arranged marriages, parents aim to increase the family land or fortune.

Love doesn’t come into it!  Rupert’s family have plans which do not include him choosing a French wife, just as Helene is under pressure from her family to marry a neighbour.

Will Helene and Rupert ever find happiness?

An excellent read. 4 stars.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The French Wife by Diney Costeloe. You can read their reviews below, or add your own!

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