Friday, February 27, 2015

"The Secret of Pembrooke Park" Review

Abigail Foster always assumed that she would marry her childhood friend, Gilbert Scott. But with her father in financial ruin and Gilbert seeming to be more attracted to her younger sister, Abigail’s life has been thrown into upheaval.

When a distant relation’s long-empty manor house suddenly becomes available, Abigail’s father makes the decision to move the family to Easton. Abigail and her father journey to Pembrooke Park to get the house in order while her mother and sister enjoy the London season. What awaits them at Pembrooke Park is definitely more than Abigail bargained for: an overprotective steward, a house in shambles that looks as if the inhabitants left in a great hurry, a rumor of hidden treasure, and an interesting local curate.

As Abigail spends more and more time at Pembrooke Park, the deeper she gets into its secrets and mysteries. And the more time she spends with the curate, William Chapman, and his family, the more she realizes how much she longs for a family of her own.

Is there truth to the rumor of hidden treasure at Pembrooke Park? And what will some people do in order to find it…or to keep it safe?

I have enjoyed previous novels by Julie Klassen for their engaging and harder-to-figure-out mystery plots and their historical accuracy. With The Secret of Pembrooke Park, I feel as if I at least got half of what I usually bargain for.

The mystery and secrets surrounding Pembrooke Park stayed true to what I expect from Julie Klassen. There are many layers to the mysteries that Abigail is trying to solve, and even though I figured out the big one early on, it was still enjoyable to see how everything unfolded. The danger towards the end is very exciting, and I thought things wrapped up nicely.

What I didn’t think came off as clearly was the historical accuracy part of the novel. The descriptions of the manor house and the dances and such were fine; it just seemed as if something about the relationship between Abigail and William was a bit off. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was except that their romance seemed somewhat too modern for some reason. Maybe it was because they seemed to spend a lot of time alone together without any serious consequences. Maybe it was that the “inner voices” of the characters seemed too modern. I don't know. Whatever it was, the setting just felt misplaced.

I also thought the spiritual aspect of the novel could have been developed more, especially since the main male character is a pastor. The best spiritual aspect of the novel was William’s sermons. They were fantastic! I just wish Abigail’s faith had been clearer.

The main plot of this novel is very similar to one of my favorite books of all time, Jane Eyre. When Abigail arrives at Pembrooke Park with its strange nighttime noise and many secrets, it was very reminiscent of Jane’s arrival at Thornfield Hall. I usually would begrudge a novel for being so similar to one of my favorites, but I actually liked that aspect in this one. It was familiar and comfortable, and it definitely held my interest. At 464 pages, this novel is quite a long read, and if it hadn’t been for the interesting mysteries, I might have given up halfway through.

Even though the setting was a little out of place, readers of Regency-era mysteries should still enjoy this lengthy but engaging novel.

I will give The Secret of Pembrooke Park ... 3.5 BookWorms.








The Secret of Pembrooke Park
by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: December 2, 2014
464 pages






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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