Book Review

‘Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor’ by Melanie Dobson

solm mdSTORY: When Heather Toulson returns to her parent’s cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.

Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage.

As Heather digs, she finds a mysterious journal that belonged to a woman she never knew and it contains clues that lead to the truth about mysterious drowning decades ago. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.

REVIEW: Clevedon, England

When Margaret (Maggie) Emerson finds herself pregnant and deserted by Elliot, a foreign sailor, she accepts the proposal of Walter Doyle, editor of the local newspaper. When her pregnancy begins to show right away, many of the local gossips figure she was pregnant before she got married.  When her daughter is, Libby, is born, she is a tiny baby so Maggie convinces Walter that she is premature.

Walter loves his job writing for the newspaper, but Maggie finally persuades him to move somewhere else because she is afraid he will find out that she was pregnant when he married her.  He gets a job as a postman and she gets a job as housekeeper to the family at Ladenbrooke Manor and the family lives in a house adjacent to the Manor grounds.

As Libby starts to grow, it is obvious that things are not as they should be with her.  She will not do her school work nor will she stay off the grounds of the Manor as requested by the owners.  Her happiness is found in watching and later, painting, butterflies.  I guess she is what someone might then have called a fey child.  However, today, we would know that she has a form of autism.  She soon gains the attention of the son of the Manor and a relationship develops.  When she becomes pregnant by him, her family hides the pregnancy and she gives birth to a girl she names Heather.  Even though Libby nurses the baby, her attention span is not good enough to care for Heather properly, so Maggie says she is Heather’s mother.

The story then jumps to Heather who is a divorced woman living in Portland Oregon and the mother of a girl who has just gotten married.  When after the death of her parents Heather arrives at their home to clean it out to prepare it for sale, many secrets come to light that have been hidden for many years.  She meets up with a man she once loved when she was a girl and their relationship soon rekindles.

There are so many secrets and twists and turns in this novel that the reader will not want to put it down. I was completely enthralled and enjoyed it immensely.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher


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