Monday, May 27, 2024

Editorial Book Review: Her Own War by Debra Borchert #HistoricalFiction #FrenchHistoricalFiction #BookReview #TheCoffeePotBookClub

*Editorial Book Review*

Her Own War

Château de Verzat Series, Book #3

by Debra Borchert

As Napoleon rises from the ashes of the French Revolution, one woman dares to spy against him.

Imprisoned for the crime of impersonating a man, Geneviève LaGarde fears giving birth in an asylum could be certain death for her and her unborn child. Desperate for her release, her husband, Louis, trades his freedom for hers and must join Bonaparte's army in Egypt.

As Geneviève wages her own war against the tyrannical general, she not only risks her own life but also those of her children and the four hundred families who depend on the Château de Verzat estate. Knowing her desperate actions could cause the government to confiscate the entire vineyard, she sacrifices everything to save her husband and protect the people who become her family. A captivating tale of the power of love, hope, and courage, and the strength of community.

“What is your personal code, Louis?”

“To protect those I love. To be honest, loyal, faithful, and true. To defend the innocent and not kill except in defense.”

“Should Bonaparte require you to go against your personal code?”

He jolted. “At risk of facing a firing squad, he could not force me to go against my personal code.”

Desperate to rescue his wife from the asylum, Louis LaGarde exchanges his freedom and is compelled to become a soldier in Bonaparte’s army, his destination, Egypt.

But Louis' loyalty does not lie with the Republic nor does it with Bonaparte. His loyalty is first and foremost to his family and his men, and he is determined that despite the battles that they face, he and his men will one day return to France.

Geneviève would have preferred to remain in the asylum when she learns about her husband’s exchange for her freedom. She fears that Louis will never get to meet their unborn child. Although she is worried about Louis she must avoid giving the government any reason to take away their vineyard. Just like her husband, Geneviève shows no allegiance to the Republic and quickly becomes entangled in the covert world of espionage.

Follow the LaGarde family’s relentless struggle to outsmart their enemies in Debra Borchert’s unforgettable novel, Her Own War.

The inclusion of meticulous historical detail, coupled with the author’s adeptness at crafting captivating characters, guarantees the reader’s sustained interest. In addition, the author’s exceptional command of language, flawless writing style, and irresistible narrative shed light on the essence of this time period and revealed the hidden darkness beneath. Moreover, it unravels a tale encompassing courage, covert operations, loyalty, war, and deep affection.

Louis understands the art of fighting, along with the importance of choosing the right time to engage. Having served as a courtier at Versailles during the pre-revolutionary era, he understands how to undermine authority by employing deceitful praise and feigned empathy. Throughout the novel, Louis’ noble upbringing serves him well, but it’s his humanity during the war that truly reveals his character. He aligns himself with Commandant Murat, not out of like, but out of necessity for the sake of his men. The malicious Commandant’s goal is to make Louis’ life as challenging as can be (as revenge for a past wrong) but this only strengthens Louis’ determination. In contrast to Murat, who uses anger, fear, and aggression to command, Louis' command and treatment of his men earned him both respect and loyalty. While he is a natural leader, his focus is not on personal gains, but rather on ensuring his men once again experience the sensation of walking on French soil - he wants to take them home to their families. In addition, he possesses a profound sense of conscience and is unafraid to reject and refuse to implement immoral orders. Louis strongly opposes everything that Bonaparte and the revolution represent, and being forced to take part in the Egyptian campaign only makes him more resentful. Louis is at all times a man of honour, and the actions of those of a higher ranking of him seem dishonourable. His enemies areportrayed as ruthless, whereas he comes across as a living embodiment of nobility. While acknowledging the flaws during Louis XVI’s reign, he can’t help but compare the horrors and injustices of the present. Ultimately, his main concern is safeguarding his family and those dependent on him. Louis is depicted as a character with deep emotions and a strong sense of honour. Borchert’s portrayal of Louis was remarkably authentic, making it effortless for readers to emotionally connect with his character.

Geneviève is a character with a very interesting backstory. Her determination has always overshadowed any obstacles her gender may present, until now. Locked in an insane asylum, a place even more perilous than prison, for impersonating a man, Geneviève fears she and her unborn child will not survive the eight-month sentence. While her husband works tirelessly to secure her release, she remains strong and spirited, displaying her resourcefulness. Who knew a rat’s tail could be so handy!

Geneviève's determination and her resolve continue throughout this novel. Her love burns passionately and her outrage at witnessing injustice fuels her determination to help total strangers escape the brutality of the Revolutionary government. Geneviève is unquestionably the heroine of this narrative, but she does not seek heroism for herself. Her motivations for doing these things are not driven by self-importance but by a sincere concern for the individuals she encounters. She often finds herself in vulnerable situations, constantly fearing that her actions will be uncovered, but this doesn’t stop her. Geneviève is a character that the reader can genuinely rally behind. Borchert effectively conveys a sense of reality in her depiction.

This novel features multiple supporting characters, each with their own unique story. The most fascinating of all is Aurélia, a formerly enslaved African. Aurélia’s speech has been taken away by the things she has witnessed and endured, and she lives in constant fear of the Capitaine, a slave trader who enjoys recapturing and reselling former slaves. At certain moments, Aurélia’s narrative resembles a horror story, but her remarkable bravery against her opponent makes her a captivating character.

Apart from the Directoire and the revolutionaries, there are additional antagonists in this story, some of whom may not be immediately apparent. Characters like Suzanne and even the notorious Joséphine Bonaparte are instrumental in advancing the plot.

Once you delve into the pages of Her Own War by Debra Borchert, the seamless blend of historical facts and fictional storytelling will keep you hooked until the very end. When historical fiction is crafted with such skill, there is no limit to its allure. The exceptional brilliance of this story will captivate you from start to finish and leave an indelible mark in your heart forever.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Ellie Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club

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Debra Borchert

Debra’s the author of the Château de Verzat series that follows headstrong and independent women and the four-hundred loyal families who protect a Loire Valley château and vineyard, and its legacy of producing the finest wines in France during the French Revolution. Her Own Legacy published 2022, Her Own Revolution published 2023, and Her Own War will be published in 2024. A passionate cook, she also wrote a companion cookbook to the series: Soups of Château de Verzat, A Culinary Tribute to the French Revolution, 2023. 

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, she weaves her knowledge of textiles and clothing design throughout her historical fiction. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and standard poodle, named after a fine French Champagne.

Connect with Debra:
Website • Twitter • Facebook • Pinterest • Instagram


  1. Ellie always writes such lovely reviews. I have added this book to my to-read list.

    1. Thank you. Yes, I agree. She writes fabulous reviews. I hope you enjoy the book!

  2. Replies
    1. Yes, it makes you want to read the book, doesn't it? Thank you for stopping by. :-)