Welcome to my tour stop for Chronicles from Chateau Moines by Evelyne Holingue. This is a middle grade historical fiction. The tour runs March 2-13 with reviews, interviews, guest posts, and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule.
Chronicles of Chateau Moines
written by Evelyne Holingue
published by Burel Press
About the book – from Goodreads: September 1970: Scott’s mother has recently died and his father gets the crazy idea to move his family from California to Normandy. Now Scott has to learn to live without his mom while adjusting to France. In his seventh grade class there is only Ibrahim who comes from another country. Scott doesn’t even want to play his guitar anymore. Why does his father think that life will be better so far from home?
Scott has no idea that his arrival is also a challenge to Sylvie. While her best friend is excited to have an American boy at school, Sylvie cannot say one word to Scott. She can’t even write good songs in her notebook anymore. Why is life so different since Scott moved to Château Moines?
Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protest era and told from the perspectives of twelve-year old Scott and Sylvie, this is a story about loss and friendship, music and peace, and also about secrets.
Although this is a work of fiction, the cultural, social, and historical background of the early 1970s in France and the United States inspired the writing. At the end of the book the reader will find a list of the songs, the names of singers, and bands mentioned through the novel as well as some elements about fashion, immigration in France, the Vietnam War, and other cultural, social, and historical facts relevant to the period of time.
He (Scott) smells of his usual mix of patchouli and shampoo, a smell that I’ve come to recognize without even thinking. He’s quiet, but it’s perfect with me. We just sit next to each other, watching our entire class dance. Someone has cranked the volume up. The disco balls flash, and since everyone is costumed, it’s hard to know who is who. Scott’s funny guesses make me laugh.
“Is that Brigitte dancing?” He points at a couple.
The girl wears a feather boa and high heels. “Definitely Brigitte,” I say. “But the boy? No clue. You know what? It’s cool that everyone came.”
“Everyone didn’t come.” Scott’s voice doesn’t hide his disappointment.
“I think we are all here,” I say, straining my eyes. “Wait, where is Ibrahim?”
“Maybe he wasn’t allowed.” I catch Scott’s glare. “You know, being from another country. I mean religion and everything.”
“Has nothing to do with him being Muslim.” Scott taps his foot to the beat of the music.
“Right now, he’s playing soccer.”
“He only plays at school.”
“You don’t believe me?”
“Look, there is one soccer field in town, and the Arabs don’t use it.”
“That figures,” Scott says.
“They kept fighting.” I realize how stupid and unfair the idea is, since nobody knows who started the fight. In the end the Arabs gave up the field. “So, where is he playing?”
“You don’t want to know.” He stands up and offers me his hand. “You dance?”
I’ve never danced with a boy in my entire life. In a flash, my heart morphs into a bird trapped inside a cage. Panicked, the bird flutters his wings to escape. Scott and I stand at least thirty centimeters away from each other.
“Can someone put on “Bridge Over Trouble Water,” please?” he calls.
As soon as the guitars, harmonicas, and voices of Simon and Garfunkel fill the basement, he wraps his arms around my waist, and I bring mine to his neck, as if I knew what to do. I watch my step so I won’t crush his sandaled feet. We aren’t really dancing, so it’s easy. I’m starting to get the hang of it when Brigitte waves her arms up in the air like an octopus.
“My parents! My parents are home!” She switches the disco balls off.
Scott is the fastest to reach for the record player. But he’s still holding onto my waist, and I trip on the long hem of my dress. He catches me just before I fall flat on the ground and drags me to my feet. When I’m up, our faces are so close to each other that I can almost taste the gum he has been chewing.
“It was my first slow dance with a girl,” he says, his breath sweet and light in my ear. At the same second, someone turns the lights on.
About the author: I was born and raised in Normandy, France, where I spent most of my childhood reading. My first published piece of writing was a poem about a man spending Christmas behind bars. I was eleven years old and wasn’t paid for my work, but I was hooked. I studied French Literature at the Université de Caen and at the Sorbonne in Paris and worked in a publishing house before moving to California, following my husband. It was a challenging time in my life as I was leaving my own career, my family, my friends and my beloved Paris behind. But how could I say no to the dreams of the man I love? Readers enjoy escaping the familiar for the unknown. Being a foreigner is discovering the unknown day after day, not only for the time of a book. However, since most things in life come with a silver lining, I credit this move for giving me the opportunity to write. Through my words, I share my affection for my native and adoptive countries that I love equally.