Welcome to the next installment of Sarah’s book reviews! Today we have a Gothic/Regency/Inspirational book to review for you… Julie Klassen’s The Secret of Pembrooke Park. And it is fabulous. 🙂
Here is a description of the book from the publisher:
Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until 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 acquainted with the manor’s past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.
This catches Abigail’s attention. Hoping to restore her family’s finances–and her dowry–Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn’t the only one secretly searching the house.
Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.
As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?
As usual, my five point review:
- This plot. It. is. AWESOME. Think intriguing mystery plus action plus a bit of romance. Mmm, my faveee! My biggest complaint with many Christian novels [and I’d say this one is more “clean” than “Christian”] is that the plots aren’t complex. I know some of these authors are good, but sometimes their fiction can just be la-di-da happy bunnies and kitties. Yup, I said that. 🙂 Well, if you’re looking for a good plot and a complex mystery, look no further. This is it.
- These characters. I instantly liked Abigail. She’s smart, and mature, and organized. Her role had been taking care of her family. But truthfully, I never liked her family. They didn’t appreciate her, even her father [who blamed her for losing the family money]. I get her sister’s actions, but her parents? Ugh. Abigail makes some great friends in the community, and of course has two great options for love interests. I’m on team William, the local curate [basically pastor], not team Gabriel [aka neighbor]. Read and see who she chooses! 🙂
- Though I know I said I liked the complex nature of the mystery, one area that I found confusing was tracing family relationships. Having a family tree included would have been useful, but ultimately would have spoiled the unraveling of the story. So I’ve got it… but you just have to be pay attention to make sense of it all.
- I loved all the Jane Austen and other classic English literatures references in this novel. So smart, especially since this book was set in the 1800s. How fun would that have been to live in those times, reading new Jane Austen novels!
- Though this novel is on the long side [460 pages], it goes by in a flash. I read most of it over this past Valentine’s weekend, and it’s definitely a stay-up-all-night read! Five stars for sure!
What are you reading lately?
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!