Ellen’s Gold – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; A Book and A Dish; Think With Your Taste Buds
From its frontispiece it was apparent that the book had been published in Augsburg in 1784. It was so dusty that he wondered if it had gone unread and forgotten for nearly as long. What intrigued him about it though were the words written in English across the cover “two times eight,” not once but three times. It seemed very strange, and when he began to thumb through the book he also discovered the words, again in English, “10 times 10” had been written on a couple of pages. It also looked as if these pages had been glued together and then pulled apart. Further on still he discovered that two pages had been cut out of the book. Then, most surprisingly, he came across a drawing on a blank page. It was clearly a crude map of a locality, which meant nothing to him except that it included a road marked as leading to Erfurt. The book had effectively been defaced, but clearly with some deliberate purpose rather than through mindless vandalism. Suddenly, he felt something lying under the flap at the back of it. To his surprise it was a letter, or part of a letter, for there was no signature, dated 13th December 1813, and written in English.
Max Kelber owned a book shop and when Frau Paulsen offered her large collection of books, he made the trip to her home to take is pick. Among the books he found the mystery book with its puzzling code, map and then a letter addressed to just the name Ellen. The letter, also written in English, gave what appeared to be coded directions to the treasure that was hidden near the town of Erfurt. But who is Ellen and where exactly is the treasure?
Ellen Charpentier lives is from and lives in Paris. Colonel Michael Korsowski is from Poland and is serving under Napoleon in his battle against Russia to recover land that once belonged to Poland. With Ellen and Michael, it was love at first sight and the more they saw of each other, the more they knew they were meant for each other no matter what. Ellen, a widow, was free give her heart to Michael but he was married to a woman who refused to grant him a divorce so Michael became a career soldier as his only means of being out of a marriage that had no love. As the war takes Michael and his troops into Russia, they are able to capture the city of Moscow. Along with the capture they discover riches beyond anyone’s dreams. This, he believes, will be his ticket to a happier life. Even if he can’t marry Ellen, they can take their share of the treasure and go to America to start a new life together. But what Michael nor anyone within his commend counted on was the severity of the Russian winters. As they lost men and horses they were also faced with having to do something with the treasure. This eventually left them with no choice but to bury it with hopes of coming back after the war ended.
Reading Ellen’s Gold was like reading a history book but an enjoyable history book. The battles were clear enough that I felt like I was actually ‘reading’ a movie. I could picture each event in my mind as I read along. I could see the frozen Russian winters, the struggles that Napoleon’s armies had as they tried to survive the cold without food for themselves nor their horses. I could also feel the desire each man had to keep the treasure safe so that when the war was over and he received his share he could start a new life of ease and comfort.
But, if the letter was found years later within a book, was the treasure ever found? Will Kebler search for this treasure for himself? Will any of the men who carried it so far out of Russia live to collect their share? The answers to those questions and more are found within the book which I feel you will enjoy searching for as you read Ellen’s Gold which is really two stories in one; the 1st being the survival of not only the treasure but also Michael and his men. The second story is more of a gothic novel with kidnapping and murder. All-in-all Ellen's Gold is a really top grade book!