Saturday, June 20, 2015

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor - Melanie Dobson

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor
Melanie Dobson
Howard, Jun 16 2015, $14.99
ISBN 9781476746142

In 1954 Clevedon, England, yachtsman Elliot leaves behind pregnant Maggie Emerson.  Though she comes to the docks in wintry weather, her lover never returns.  When newspaper editor Walter Doyle proposes, Maggie accepts.  Though many of the locals believe she was carrying before her wedding, Maggie persuades her husband that he sired their “premature” newborn tiny Libby.  The family relocates to a servant’s home at the Ladenbrooke Manor in Gloucester where Maggie becomes the housekeeper and in town Walter obtains a position as a postman. 

Libby grows up as a free spirit who loves to paint butterflies while dreaming of being as free to fly as her subjects.  In 1969 she and Ladenbrooke Manor family teenager Oliver Croft have sex.  Soon afterward he drowns in the nearby river while she becomes pregnant though her parents hide her delicate condition.  Nine months later Libby gives birth to Heather, whose grandmother raises her as her late in life second child since her first daughter cannot.

After a quarter of a century away from her home, divorced Heather Toulson leaves Portland Oregon for England to prepare her late parents’ home for sale following the death of her estranged widow father Walter.  She uncovers shocking secrets about her family, a cold case murder, and the man she loved and lost twenty-five years ago.

Moving effortlessly between three generations, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is a superb family drama as with each new revelation Heather uncovers further makes her believe that the truth will set you free is a bold lie.  Though the wrap-up is too perfect for this convoluted family, the mysteries grip the audience with a need similar to that of Heather and her married daughter Ella to know more.

Harriet Klausner

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