My thanks go out to the lovely Phoebe from HarperFiction, for providing a PDF ARC copy of this debut novel, for my reading pleasure.
French Alps, 1998 – Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.
20 years later – Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.
Someone knows what really happened that day
And somebody will pay.
Catherine is a freelance journalist living in the South of France with her husband and two teenage children, having moved from London in 2009 so that the children could grow up bilingual, they could all ski more, and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life.
She writes about children, travel, health and lifestyle and regularly appears in TV debates on ‘This Morning’ and various radio stations.
She is an avid thriller reader and has been since she discovered Agatha Christie as a child.
The Chalet is Catherine’s first published full-length novel, although she has also written several (unpublished) thrillers for teens and a (what used to be called) chick lit novel set in TV production.
Other than skiing and reading she love to travel, theme parks, and spends far too much time on social media. Some of her other favourite things include Alan Partridge, sparkly flip flops and salt and vinegar crisps.
Check out Catherine’s website
Follow Catherine on Twitter
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“I’m delighted to introduce you to my debut novel, The Chalet. The mountains are beautiful – but they can also be deadly. I learned to ski on a school trip when I was fourteen and have loved it ever since. The Chalet is set in a fictional ski resort in the French Alps. When a body turns up and a storm closes the roads, the residents of a luxurious chalet are thrown into turmoil. Can you ever really get away from your past? Are you even the same person as you were 20 years ago? With a setting inspired by the various ski resorts I’ve visited over the years and the people I’ve met there, The Chalet looks at what happens when the past crashes into the present”
“I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.”
18 January 2020
BREAKING NEWS: A British national is reported to
have died at the ski resort of La Madière, France.
Details are as yet unclear. More to follow.
“I’ve never been skiing before. It’s not something you generally get to do when you grow up on a council estate, is it? But since I started at Oxford last year, I’ve got used to keeping quiet about that kind of thing. My vowels have rounded out, I say lunch instead of dinner, dinner instead of tea and try to remember not to say toilet. I didn’t do it deliberately, it just happened.”
“Thing is, I can see Adam’s an arse in many ways, and he spends almost the whole time when we’re together trying to wind me up, but he’s also my brother, whether I like it or not. Always has been, always will be. There’s a bond there. It’s maybe difficult to understand if you don’t have a sibling. Even when I hate him, which quite often I do, I know that . . . well, deep down, I don’t hate him really.”
‘Closure?’ I say, taking a beat or two to realize what she means. I hate these new-agey therapy-speak words. ‘Yes. I guess so. Though I will still have to arrange a funeral. I haven’t decided what to do about that. I haven’t really arranged one before.’ By ‘haven’t really’, I mean haven’t ever. Mum arranged Dad’s funeral, and bar a few emails and calls, I left the same funeral house and the family solicitor to arrange Mum’s a couple of years later. I simply turned up on the day. It might sound callous, but these people are dead, they’re just bodies. They don’t care what their casket is like or which flowers people choose. It’s all a giant fuss and waste of money as far as I can see.
‘Was Will a religious man?’ she asks, putting some soup down in front of me on a tray set with silver cutlery and a white napkin. ‘I don’t think so,’ I say. ‘At least, we never went to church except for hatch, match, and dispatch type things, even as children. I don’t think he’d ever have gone to church of his own accord.’
“I haven’t finished yet!”
OMG! – A debut novel – Really? – No Way!
I haven’t read a book this quickly in I don’t know how long, and that’s not because it was a PDF copy which needed to be read on my computer, or because I have a little more free time as I am still at home. No! I rattled through this one at a great rate of knots because I simply needed to know how it ended, and I needed to know right now!
In my haste, the pages practically turned themselves, on a book which had just about everything going for it. The opening paragraph piqued my interest; the storyline was crammed full of suspense and some subtly introduced red herrings to keep me guessing; whilst the ending was both conclusive and open-ended, which would generally get my back up a little, but in this case seemed right and natural. Reading The Chalet as a stand alone story definitely works a treat if you are not much of a series reader, however I just hope that there is going to be a follow-on story very soon, to tie up that niggling loose end!
I really got on board with Catherine’s skilled, effortless and mature writing style and was amazed at just how finely balanced and fluid she managed to keep the story, between it being plot and character driven. The short, clipped chapters, which randomly switched between multiple places and time zones, causing me have to stop and piece things together occasionally, but only in an enjoyable way and never distracting enough to be bothersome. Visually descriptive narrative and dialogue drew me in and made me, the outside neutral observer, a part of this carefully planned journey of revenge, retribution and closure.
A multi-layered, pacey plot, featured parallel storylines of the ‘then and now’, told through several different voices of the many prime characters, which I saw gradually coming together, as motives were revealed, grievances aired and old scores prepared to be settled. Twists and turns were added regularly throughout the course of this richly crafted journey, so that what I thought five minutes ago, was now no longer feasible, making me have to constantly re-evaluate my conclusions. There were some quite disturbing, profoundly touching and emotionally distressing sections of narrative, but these were handled with consummate ease and empathy by Catherine, who showcased them sympathetically, as a perceptive, social commentary of our times, throwing a thoughtful and caring spotlight on the mental health issues and behavioural problems we face in all walks of society. These cameos were all essential to the storyline and in no way sought to overshadow the carefully choreographed and planned murder/mystery at the heart of it all. With all the main players gathered together in one place, I was just waiting for a detective straight out of an Agatha Christie novel, to appear and unmask the murderer – But this plot was far too subtle for that to happen and I never saw coming, the final flourish which Catherine left me to ponder on, so obvious, so sneaky and so unexpected.
‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’!
The profusion of complex players in this ever evolving drama, were the most undesirable and ill-matched set of individuals as you could ever hope to meet, although I became so invested in them as a rather stunned and often open-mouthed observer, that they almost became real. Despite them being really well defined and developed, to the point where I could almost read their thoughts as if I knew them personally, none of them were really open enough to connect with on any intellectual level and the dynamics between them were generally strained and false, having very little depth, to say the very least. However of the the four central characters, there is actually only one who doesn’t fit, has something to hide and a reason to be afraid. The two lead male roles, are those of Hugo and Simon and at first I must admit that I had firmly slotted Simon into some dastardly plan for the unfolding events, but that is maybe because I found him so noxious as a person. When I realised that in fact both he and Hugo were simply a couple of not very competent businessmen, with large bank balances obtained at other people’s hard work and expense, I had great fun sitting back and unpicking the rather noisome personalities which Catherine had woven around them.
There are so many secrets, so much lying and deceit, so many inter-twined stories which bind them together as both a whole unit and as individual sub groups within the unit, that I don’t know how Catherine managed to keep track of them all when she was plotting her storyline! I wish my mind could work on that many parallel planes at the same time!!
A complimentary PDF of this book for review purposes, was kindly made available by publisher HarperFiction
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!