Manor of Secrets
Point, January 2014
Katherine Longshore’s Manor of Secrets is a well-written historical novel for young adults. The novel is reminiscent of Downton Abbey in that it takes place at a grand manor in Great Britain and we get to experience the drama of the wealthy upper-class upstairs and their servants below.
Lady Charlotte Edmonds is young, beautiful, sheltered, and bored. She looks with dread upon the life that her mother Lady Diane has planned out for her – as the wife of stiff and one-dimensional Lord Andrew Broadhurst. Charlotte secretly writes stories and imagines running off with dashing footman Lawrence.
At the same time, kitchen maid Janie Seward wonders if there is more to life than the Manor’s kitchen. She has the passion and skills to move ahead, but knows that she can only get so far. “Be content with your station in life”, as Lady Diane likes to point out to daughter and maid.
Then Charlotte’s long-lost aunt Lady Beatrice appears and sets a whole series of unexpected events in motion. Let’s just say that both Lord Broadhurst and Lawrence are not what they appear to be. The same is true for several other characters in this novel. Both Charlotte and Janie have to make life-changing choices towards the end.
Since I am interested in feminist issues, I appreciated Longshore’s nod to the women’s suffrage movement. She researched her time period well and crafted an entertaining Downton-esque piece of young adult literature.
Reviewed by Anika Abbate, June 2014.