by Julie, wintering in Somerville
I am delighted to welcome Susan Shea to the blog today to celebrate the launch of Murder Visits a French Village. Susan and I served on the SinC board together, and her gracious manner was always a tonic.
Somewhere in my travel history, after falling in love with Bali’s magical culture as it was in the mid-1990s, Hong Kong’s optimistic energy before the hand over in 1997, and Italy’s, well, everything, I re-discovered France. First it was Paris, a swoony affection that included everything from garlicky snails and Berthillon ice cream to Baroque architecture and chimney pots.
Then close friends from my part of California moved permanently to a tiny crossroads spot in pastoral Burgundy. I was lucky enough to be invited for many visits. Much of the architecture bears witness to Burgundy’s medieval history, but some of the most glamorous structures were designed and built later, in the Renaissance, as palatial evidence of their owners’ importance and wealth.
We visited d’Ancy-le-Franc, a completely restored Renaissance palace set in formal parklike grounds, once the home of the Dukes of Burgundy and renowned for its murals, which decorated every wall and ceiling we toured. Lots of photos online.
Château d’ Epoisses has a history that goes back to the 12th century, boasts a fantastic rose garden, a moat, and a 12-foot box hedge that may have been a maze. (Yes, the town named after it is the home of that delicious cheese.)
So many others…A brusque Count who owned another château led the tours himself, only opening a handful of rooms, one of which was adorned with portraits of his ancestors, of whom he seemed excessively proud, set on easels. There were châteaux that had been updated to 19th century standards, but retained their original grand facades and allées of tall trees to signal their old nobility. Some grand looking properties weren’t open to the public, so we only saw their gray or creamy stone exteriors as we drove by.
We were invited to visit a real medieval fortress that friends of my hosts were restoring bit by bit. It had a dungeon, a great hall where people once ate and slept, a bridge over its dry moat, and a tower.
With all of this imprinted in my memory, it wasn’t hard to dive into a mystery set in my invented château, which I decided was a minor structure, with a medieval tower that had survived intact, and a 19th century update for the rest of the building. Ariel Shepard, my protagonist, a new widow in her mid-30s who inherits it, has fallen in love with the tower. It’s fun creating your own château. The hardest part? Finding a name for mine that hadn’t already been given to a French château – there are so many of them, and other “château” names have been gobbled up by wineries!
So, Wicked Readers, put yourself in the picture: If you could stay in a château in Burgundy, what would it have to include?
Susan will give a pre-publication, signed hard cover copy of MURDER VISITS A FRENCH VILLAGE to one commenter with a US address chosen randomly from today’s commenters.
About Susan C. Shea
Susan C. Shea is a member of Norcal’s Sisters in Crime, a former member of the SinC national board, and a member of MWA. She’s the author of two series, the French village mysteries, and the Dani O’Rourke Mysteries. She’s on the faculty of the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference and blogs on 7 Criminal Minds. www.susancshea.com.
About the book:
Ariel Shepard is devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, but nothing could have prepared her for inheriting the rundown château in Burgundy they’d visited on their honeymoon. When the historian she hires to help uncover the château’s history is found dead in the moat, she realizes many people working on its restoration had the means, but who had a motive?
Welcome, Susan! Yours was tough research, but somebody’s gotta do it, right? ;^) Congratulations on what sounds like a delightful book.
I would like to stay at a chateau or castle that has a lovely garden with a nice bench to sit and enjoy the scenery. My room, a comfy bed and lots of antiques. Maybe with a ghost or 2 roaming the hallways. That you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com
Congratulations Susan on your upcoming release. If I stayed at a chateau, I definitely need a comfortable bench overlooking an ocean or a garden. Most importantly I need wi-fi.
The chateau I’d like to stay at would have a cozy bedroom with a big fireplace and a canopied fancy bed. It would have french doors leading to a balcony that overlooked enormous gardens filled with lots of different varieties of lovely flowers!
Oh your trip sounds fabulous!
If I were to stay in a château in Burgundy, I would love a wooded area around the large garden area so that it could be visited by critter visitors to entertain the guests while they walked the garden paths or sit on a well placed bench for privacy. I’d want it to have the grand dining hall where all the guests from every country could dine on scrumptious food and share their adventures. The bedroom our be oversized to accommodate a suite with a living area with sofa and all the amenities needed to receive a guest or to just relax after a long day’s event’s and a bedroom with a large four poster antique bed, fireplace for those drafty nights, late night reading or for romance. It would have a blend of comfort and history that would have you thoroughly enjoying your visit and hating the thought of leaving. And for adventure it would have halls and history to explore as well as maybe stories of ghosts at times.
Thank you for the wonderful chance to win a copy of ” MURDER VISITS A FRENCH VILLAGE”. Would love the opportunity to read and review it.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Staying in a place like that would be awesome in itself! A tall tower would be nice, with windows to look out over the area. Fireplaces and an old library and I’d never leave!
I look forward to reading Murder Visits a French Village — sounds luscious! My chateau would need three things (aside from modern plumbing and central heat!). I would need a beautiful garden in which to putter and relax—including Bourbon roses, of course! As a former equestrian, I’d need a small but lovely stable with two or three horses to carry me around the estate. And as a certified crazy dog & cat lady, I’d need an assortment of dogs (hounds, spaniels, retrievers, a lap dog or two) and a clowder of cats. Come to think of it, I’ll need a bunch of quirky but kind help to keep things running. 🙂 Thanks for the fun!
Congratulations, Susan! My chateau would have a lovely garden for daytime and a big fireplace to sit in front of and read by night. Oh, and modern plumbing.
The Girl recently told me she’s going to Paris in the fall with The Very Nice Boyfriend. His sister is taken him for a college graduation present. Hopefully she brings back a lot of pictures.
I want Kathy and Kay as traveling companions. We would enjoy the same things in chateaux. Neither mentioned modern plumbing, but somewhere other than a garderobe!
It’s so great to see you here, Susan and congratulations on the new book! You were a wonderful support when I was president of SinC!
The book sounds amazing! My chateau visit would include a gorgeous garden, a huge library full of old leather-bound books and a roaring fireplace, and a handsome, cheeky French “house boy”. Is that politically incorrect?!
While I’d enjoy a good garden, I have to admit I love the renovations on YouTube like Chateau de la Ferte. I’d like my chateau with a side of DIY.
Sounds like a delightful book! My chateau would have indoor plumbing! Beyond that, I’d just be grateful to stay in a true chateau
A library, of course!
I would want a beautiful huge library with a rolling ladder! Your book sounds so good! Thanks for the chance!
I’m thinking heat and modern plumbing.
These pictures are wonderful. Now I want to visit. (Please enter me in the giveaway.)
Heat, hot water, a shower, electricity
My chateau would have to have an indoor bathroom and heat, electricity, basically all the modern amenities. I would also like beautiful gardens and a cozy library. Would love to read your book, thanks for the chance.
Love these comments. I’ll pass them along to Ariel Shepard, who’s still hard at work in the second novel I’m writing right now!
Modern plumbing and an up to date kitchen. A library with a fireplace would be nice too.
I’ve never been to France, much less a French castle. But with your book soon to be in hand, no need to go. All the good bits, without the inconvenience of translation and travel!
I certainly would not want to make the trip alone! I would want my husband to come with me. Just give us a comfortable place to sleep and get cozy together!
it sounds like a fun book. For some reason, they sound drafty to me so i would need it to be warm downstairs and big fluffy comforters on the bed. Also some nice gardens to walk in and some wine or spirits to relax
I would love a library. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.
A spa. I could use the pampering.