STORY: Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, 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 to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.
Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?
REVIEW: Abigail Foster, age 23, is an intelligent young woman who has always enjoyed discussing her father’s investments with him. They both felt that investing in her uncle’s banks was a good thing and she encouraged her father to do so. Unfortunately, some of the banks have failed and their investments have been lost. Realizing that they need to find ways to severely economize, they have sold their home with plans to find a smaller place to live. As it happens, a solicitor shows up offering for them to live for a year at Pembrooke Park which is now owned by some distant relatives. The drawback is that the home has been boarded up for 18 years.
The plan is for Louise, Abigail’s younger sister, and her mother to stay in London staying with an aunt to allow Louise to experience her coming-out. In the meantime, Abigail and her father will live in Pembrooke Park. The house is quite large but rather dusty from being closed up for all these years. However, a housekeeper and maids are found to help with cleaning the home. Thus, Abigail begins with helping with the cleaning of the home and getting things settled for when her mother and sister move in. Her father is called back to London to deal with the repercussions of the bank failures but Abigail feels she can handle things on her own.
Abigail begins to meet the neighbors of the area. There is a church on the property and she friends the young curate and his family who warmly welcome her. Not having attended church on a regular basis, she slowly begins to go to the services and helps with teaching some of the poor children of the area.
There are secrets surrounding Pembrooke Park of earlier families who have lived there. There is also a tale that there is a secret room within the home which houses treasures.
Abigail gets to know the curate, William, and they find a friendship that grows to an attraction. But Abigail is somewhat torn because she has always thought she would one day marry her childhood friend, Gilbert, an architect, who is now on a grand tour of Italy.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot here. Readers should know that this is a rather long novel, as is the case with many of this author’s novels. However, it is because the stories are woven together including a mystery that keeps the reader turning pages wanting to learn more. Each time I read a novel by Julie Klassen, I am completely astonished at her talents. Grab a copy of this book, settle in and enjoy a wonderful read.
Connie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher