Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Book Review: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen
Title: The Secret of Pembrooke Park
Author: Julie Klassen
2014, Bethany House
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her--a longtime friend--has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . .
The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.
Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?
I have loved most of Julie Klassens books... except the last one I got. I was cautiously hoping this one was going to be better and I was not disappointed.
This book is set at a beautiful manor in the English countryside and has lots of lovely descriptions. You get a good feel for where they are as well as the way the larger manors interact with their tenants, servants and how they all interconnect.
Julie Klassen does a great job building up the suspense with this novel. I wasn't sure what the secret that the manor was keeping was going to be or when it would be discovered. There were several twists and turns throughout the book that I didn't expect. Who was the man in the green cloak that kept being glimpsed? Where was the secret treasure room hidden? Why is Leah so scared all the time?
I really enjoyed the interaction between Abigail and William Chapman, the curate. Although there were a couple scenes I felt were kinda stupid, like when she decided to leave her room in the middle of the night, in her nightgown, to apologize to him. But I decided not to dwell on those and enjoy the rest of the story.
There were a lot of secondary characters in this book - lots of people to keep track of their stories as well as the main ones. There is Abigail's family, Willliam's family, the neighboring manor, Gilbert, Abigail's childhood friend, the servants, etc. I felt that most of them really added to the story, but I did get a little confused at a couple points.
My only really complaint was that it felt very long. Things kept happening and I wasn't sure how long it was going to be drawn out. But it was good and I would still recommend it. I just think it could have been slightly shorter.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for my honest review from Bethany House Publishers. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.