The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen – Book Review

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

BY: JULIE KLASSEN

Synopsis:

“The Secret of Pembrooke Park”, a finalist for a 2015 Minnesota Book Award, is the story of Abigail Foster, who shifts to an old manor only to find later that the manor is full of mysteries.

Abigail Foster is the elder daughter of Foster family and is always ready to walk an extra mile and accept challenges to keep her family happy. Her father’s bad investment compels them to look for downsizing their home with a smaller one in the country. Abigail considers herself responsible for the crisis that engulfed their family, because she had advised her father to make the investment. Due to the misfortune, they lost everything including their  house in London and place in the society. The task of shifting to a country house is not so easy as it seemed because  it became difficult for them to find a property that could suffice their requirement. What added more to their misery was the prices of the new properties that were not affordable for them.

A lawyer helped them with the quest by offering the lease of Pembrooke Park, a large estate, for free. The offer was too good to refuse and she readily accepted it. Although the news of the property came as a godsend for them, yet several questions remained unanswered and demanded some sort of explanation like; “Who is leasing Pembrooke Park to them?”, “ Why the property was abandoned twenty years ago?”, and several other strange stipulations surrounding the rumors of murder and the hidden treasure.

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Abigail is an average looking girl who is heartbroken by Gilbert’s (a long time friend of hers) interest in her sister who is prettier. She decides to shift to Pembrooke Park with her family and start afresh and here’s where the story really picks up.

The task of organizing the move to Pembrooke Park falls on Abigail’s shoulders after her mother takes her younger sister, Louisa, off to London for her first season. The lease of the estate brought a contract with itself that said that the Fosters family had to stay with an already hired staff for minimum one year. It was a strange proposition earlier unheard of, but Abigail convinces her father to take it. Upon their arrival to Pembrooke Park, the mystery deepens further and Abigail starts receiving strange letters from a woman who had explicitly described her own experience at the estate years before.

The matter gets more complicated and the mystery deepens with horrifying noises, secretive staff and hooded figures that force Abigail to be on her toes and she tries with all her heart to uncover the truth behind her new home. Whether or not Abigail is able to solve the mystery and discover the truth is “The Secret of Pembrooke Park” all about.

Book Review:

This was my first encounter with any of Julie Klassen’s novels and I must say, I fell in love with her style of writing. The vivid imagery she provides to the settings and the characters are really what shape her stories.

Another reason of my becoming her fan may be my affinity with Jane Austen. Klassen’s style reminds me of Jane Austen’s writing. Although this novel reads a lot like Austen’s books but I didn’t find much resemblance with Northanger Abbey which many people think.

It took me a while to get into the novel but eventually I started enjoying the book. The vivid description of the days revolving around the mysterious manor, live imagery of the beautiful English country, and the suspense kept me glued to the book.

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This book is perfect to read while sipping a hot cup of tea sitting inside a cozy blanket. The novel is very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This is another Regency novel which has joined the list of my all time favourites along with Rebecca. I liked the setting, and the mystery in general. Loved the way the mystery unfolds and the ending that was worth waiting for.

Julie Klassen has been successful in writing a well-crafted, engaging Regency novel which has a blend of all: romance, adventure, and thrilling secrets. Regency novels are perfect when you want to read about good stories set within a backdrop of an English village.  The plot is very well done but one thing I could not comprehend is the way romance was depicted in the book considering the fact that the story is set 200 years ago. I will give this review a four star only because of this reason. The book is definitely going to be liked by mystery lovers and romance readers alike. All in all a good and enjoyable read.

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