BOOK CLUB: The French Wife

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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!

14 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The French Wife

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to read this ebook The French Wife by Diney Costeloe. This is the first of her books I have read. I would have liked to have read the book leading up to this book first.
    The novel being set in the 1800s shows the way wealthy young girls lived, with very little freedom and so much etiquette to live by.
    The characters are mostly pleasing and it was good to see the “baddies ” get their come uppance! Of course it all came out well in the end.

  2. The French Wife by Diney Costeloe, an ebook published by Head of Zeus, is an upstairs/downstairs type portrayal of love, courtship and relationships in 19th century France, and to a lesser extent England.

    I was surprised to learn that it is actually the second book in the Children of the Siege series, as it reads very readily as a stand-alone novel. However perhaps for this reason I did find that it took me a little while to get into it and bring together the various characters and families that are introduced.

    Although I found the storyline quite transparent and predictable, and the characters are more caricature than well rounded, the book was nevertheless written in an enjoyable way. Indeed once I had settled into it, the narrative flowed very well. I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the sad plight of the maid Annette, the kindheartedness of Madame Agathe Sauz or the romance between the young naive Helene and her two suitors – Rupert, a charming, Englishman and Simon Barnier, her brooding neighbour.

    More soap opera or farce than historical romance, The French Wife was quite entertaining, particularly if like me you enjoy cheering on the hero/heroines and booing the villains!!

  3. I loved this book. I didn’t know it was a second book in a series, and it didn’t matter. The book was set in between 19th century France and England. It had drama and romance, and even though it was predictable, there was enough twists and turns to keep me turning the pages.
    It is the first book I have read from Diney Cotesloe, but will definitely be reading more of her books. Her writing is so easy to read.

  4. Take a trip into the past, walk in the shoes of the downtrodden and privaledged alike.
    Madame Sauze kept house for a priest, until he passed and then changes were made, a late life change was forced upon her. But it was not until the girl she rescued, Annette, suffered at the hands of another and was thrown out that she starts anew.
    Rupert had little he had to live up to, being second born in a house of privaledge. So an offer to travel to France for a new friends wedding, what harm could come of it?
    Helene was to see her sister married and join society to start her adult life. Her childhood trauma left behind, but is the past ever the past?
    The worlds of these very different people collide and intertwine to show strenght, friendship, love, heartbreak, betrayal, brutality and forgiveness. The story drawers you in and you hope for the best but not always does it work out as planned.
    I loved this read, it was hard to put down when sleep called. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, if the happily ever after doesnt sit well, but why not give it a go.
    Thanks Beauty & Lace and Disney for such a good book.

  5. Set in France with the main characters initially of Madame Sauze and Annette who are both in service as housekeeper and house maid. The story initially has an impact as their circumstances take a traumatic turn. They find themselves eventually moving into service in society to serve Helene’s family. A past reunited.
    Helene is at an age where she enters the society and is able to be introduced. She meets an Englishman, Rupert, who is a second born son with little family responsibilities. Helene and Rupert fall in love but events occur when Robert is called back home to England as his brother has died. Their love is based on promises of waiting and returning, however, again society deems family responsibilities more important.
    Time passes, marriages are planned, family responsibilities are important and family pressure is particularly strong.
    Will Helene and Rupert find their happiness?
    Historical romances are often predictable but still a very good read.
    This one has an element of everything.

  6. Thank you, Beauty & Lace, for the opportunity to read this ebook ‘The French Wife’ by Diney Costeloe. This historical romance was set in in 19th century France & England that is filled with love, betrayal, friendship, responsibilities, privilege & destitution that occur amongst its characters. A very enjoyable read that follows the love story of Lucas and Helene – his hoped to be French wife. All does not travel smoothly for the aspiring couple, with a few twists & turns along the way but I did enjoy the ending – a great summer read.

  7. I demolished this book overnight. Could not put it down, I loved the storyline and the way it was written. Will definately be on the lookout for more titles! Thanks beauty and lace!

  8. Thanks Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this book. I enjoyed the French Wife, while it is not the type of book I usually read I found it easy to read and quite enjoyed it. I liked the main characters, and keep wanting to find out what would happen next.

    I will be on the look out for more books by Diney Costeloe.

  9. Thank you Beauty and Lace for sending me ‘The French Wife.’
    Honestly this was not a book I enjoyed as it took me a long time to ‘get into it.’
    It is the second book in a series but you don’t have to have read the first book.
    If you like historical romance novels- give it a go.

  10. I found ‘The French Wife’ by Diney Costeloe interesting, but also frustrating to read. Although I appreciated all of the history in this book, life must just have been sooooo difficult for women back then. I just wanted to shake the characters and get some sense into them. However, I also kept thinking how much easier it is for us there days to just call/text/email not have to wait for letters to be delivered. I was very happy with the ending though and will keep an eye out for more books by this author. Thank you Beauty and Lace for letting me review this book >:o)

  11. Another wonderful historical ebook that was well written.
    This is the first book I have read written by Diney Costeloe and won’t be the last.
    I just finished a fantastic book with some history, romance and drama and didn’t know if I could get into another book so quickly and easily but I did and loved it.
    Thanks for some really noteworthy ebooks lately, I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed them. I especially like reading before bed and it’s easy as an ebook on my phone rather than a big book to hold and land on my face or floor if I nod off lol

  12. A wonderfully written historical romance.
    This book has it all, romance, betrayal, difference between the classes and responsibility.
    This is the first book by Diney Costeloe I have read and will be keeping my eye out for other reads.
    Thank you for the opportunity to read this lovely book.

  13. Thank you Beauty & Lace and Head of Zeus for the chance to read this book. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me, I tried but just couldn’t get into it. I didn’t realise that it was a sequel, although that makes sense as it seemed like there was a history between the characters and glimpse into a back story that the reader wasn’t privy to. It can be read alone but I’d recommend reading it in order and that may improve the experience and found out the characters and story line.

  14. A little bit of everything in this story, and well written. It certainly portrayed well, the way of life in the 1800’s, whether you be wealthy, or a mere ‘below stairs’ maid or housekeeper to those living ‘upstairs’. True love, often overshadowed by others being promised the hand of a young woman, in a time of arranged marriages,and such strict etiquette. A real page turner, as you just wanted to see if true love would prevail, and if the twists and turns would enable true happiness for all.
    Thank you Beauty & Lace and Head of Zeus for the opportunity to read The French Wife by Diney Costeloe.

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