3 out of 4 stars
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If you have ever found yourself challenged or slow in pursuing your dreams, then, you should read the novel Chateau by Nikita Oltyan. Oltyan describes quite well the importance of factoring in time when drawing up plans. Sadly, for some—like the characters described in this book—they risk having their dreams go unfulfilled, simply because they could become time-barred. Or maybe, it’s just a case of choosing their dreams wrongly, in the first place.
Shan Lee is born into a poor Nepalese family. One day, he sees the picture of a beautiful vineyard and decides, there and then, it will be his motivating force in life. Fate, however, has other plans for him, and soon, Shan finds himself in the middle of a civil war that changes his family and beliefs radically. Nevertheless, Shan is close to his dad and has always kept his dad’s counsel close at heart, and now, he feels it’s about time he applies some of his dad’s teachings if he’s to keep his body and soul together.
In a nutshell, some of his dad’s teachings are that “there is no greater courage than to do what you have to do.” As well, if “you want revenge, that’s your right. But you have to do it yourself.” Having said that, what Shan proceeds to do next surprised me. It also brought to light one of the strongest strengths of this novel.
Oltyan made diversity a hallmark of her novel. This is because the main characters are drawn from different nationalities, like American, French, Swiss, Russian, British, African, and Nepalese, perhaps as a stark reminder of the invasive nature of war. Additionally, Oltyan has expanded this theme to include the specialties of the different regions covered in her story, e.g., she samples the delicious cuisine of Switzerland, such as “fondue,” includes details on skiing in France and Switzerland, and alludes to the warm climate of the area around Lake Geneva, and even extols the charm of Sochi, in a passing reference.
On the other hand, the author’s writing, and especially the dialogue, tended to be incoherent, for the most part, mainly because some words were lost in translation from Russian, and in other cases, due to the myriad editing errors I found: for example, “…the price of this property can be repelled in two or three years…” In this instance, the correct word would be “recouped” or “regained” in place of “repelled.” All in all, because of the harrowing tale of a good guy turned rogue overnight, the book aroused powerful emotions that made me unable to put the book down until I was through reading it.
As I conclude, I deduct one star for the poor editing. At the same time, I want to recognize the inventiveness of the author while broaching the difficult and decisive themes covered, such as war, the use of illicit drugs, and poverty. I, therefore, rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
Lastly, readers who enjoy a mixture of thrilling and realistic fiction in their stories will find the novel captivating. Also, the book is less suited to those who dislike references to same-sex relationships in their stories. For the same reason, the book would only be suitable for a mature audience.
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