Monday, 13 April 2015

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has a 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 rumours 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 the love she seeks…or very real danger?

Review: Abigail Foster knows that she is smart. She has run her mother's house for years, has aided her father in major financial decisions and investments, and can sketch up building plans almost as well has her best friend who is now an architect. Abigail has always been the practical one in the family, and the one most able to keep her wits about her. Thus, it comes as no surprise that when the family faces financial ruin, she is the one to give up her dowry, and to go alone to the intimidating Pembrooke Park to clean it up and see about repairs before her family moves in.

Quietly brave and unassumingly strong, Abigail does what needs to be done. She does not credit herself with any great physical attributes, and is aware that her slim chances at marriage are now almost zero… with her dowry gone, a prettier younger sister parading about in the full glory of her season, and a reputation for being the 'practical' one.

As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the character of Abigail. She is the sort of girl I would value as a friend. She is a steadfast individual, humble, and yet very clever. Julie Klassen did a great job bringing her to life - very believable!

As for Pembrooke Park…. it is indeed spooky. I made the mistake of reading this book before bed, and it kept me up for hours and gave me a nightmare. Not that the book is inappropriate - not at all! I am, admittedly, a bit of a chicken. The scenes of mysterious people in dark cloaks sneaking around Abigail's house while she slept….yikes. Gave me the creeps and caused me to jump at every little sound outside of MY window.

I found the first half of this book a little slow, but I would really encourage anyone who is contemplating putting it down after the first 100 pages to keep reading. It just gets better and better. It took me about 2 weeks to read the first half of the book, and then I finished the last half in a day. I just couldn't put it down. The mystery was cleverly written (I couldn't guess the ending…I love that!) and it kept me engaged, flipping the pages, and eagerly wanting to know what happens next. Overall this is a very good book and I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and the set of characters. The book is a little on the longish side…just as a warning. You certainly will get your money's worth with 450 pages. That being said, by the last few chapters I was wishing it wouldn't end and was hoping for more.

A good book!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group" 

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