Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review: Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

Pages: 328
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: January 28, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems . . . Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.  Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage -- or the means -- to break free and follow her passions. Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever."
Lady Charlotte appears to have it all. The dresses, the jewels, servants, and a beautiful house (The Manor), but she is feeling restless, much like a bird in a cage. She wants adventure, but that is one thing she feels she will never obtain if she continues down the path that her mother wants for her.  Her mother, Lady Diane, wants her to marry the boring Lord Andrew, but that's the last thing Charlotte wants.  She finds herself gravitating towards the captivating kitchen maid, Janie, and the gorgeous footman, Lawrence. Charlotte knows that this is unconventional and her mother would strongly disapprove, but she can't help it.  Downstairs, there is Janie, a kitchen maid, who understands her place, even though she knows she is capable of much, much more.  They both start an unusual friendship and things get even more interesting when Charlotte's unorthodox Aunt Beatrice arrives and stirs things up at The Manor.  Katherine Longshore's Manor of Secrets will appeal to historical fiction fans and those who need their Downton Abbey fix.

Each chapter alternates between Janie and Charlotte's point of view and I found myself gravitating more towards Janie and her story than Charlotte's. I found myself getting frustrated with Charlotte and I had a hard time sympathizing with her whereas Janie is a fiery heroine that I immediately was rooting for in Manor of Secrets.

Longshore did a good job demonstrating the vast differences between Charlotte's world and Janie's.  One thing that Longshore is good at is creating a detailed world and she depicts the "upstairs" world versus the "downstairs" world expertly.  Plus, the time period is 1911 and Longshore really brought it to life as well as the whole of idea of a possible change on the horizon.

It must be said that I am a huge fan of Longshore as I loved Gilt and Tarnish, but something is missing in Manor of Secrets, which is why I couldn't give this book four stars. Things felt too predictable for me (the big secret!) and the characters felt very, very young. I think a younger YA reader or even the upper middle grades might enjoy Manor of Secrets more than me.

Nonetheless, fans of Downton Abbey will no doubt find may parallels between the show and the characters in Manor of Secrets as well as the some of the story lines. If you are a fan of the show and are looking for a young adult book that is similar, check out Longshore's Manor of Secrets, but if you are looking for a captivating historical tale, then I urge you to check out Longshore's other novels, Gilt and Tarnish, which I preferred a bit more.

10 comments:

  1. I said some of the same things in my own review of this book. Charlotte seemed so young and naive and it was grating. It is definitely easier to root for Janie. I thought the secret was obvious as well. I think I was disappointed because I was hoping for some more originality. I'd heard (from you) how amazing her Tudor novels are so maybe my expectations were just too high for this one.

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    1. I love that we posted our reviews on the same day! Great minds think alike…we also seem to have the same opinions! I prefer Longshore's Tudor novels a bit more, so I encourage you to check them out, Christina! Thanks for visiting!

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  2. I still need to read Ms. Longshore's previous books, but I'm excited to read this one. Good to know it's not quite as exciting as it appears, but I'm still looking forward to reading it! Great review!

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    1. Yes, this book was entertaining, but I prefer her Tudor novels. I hope you get to read it soon, DJ. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Hm. I was curious about this one until you mentioned how young the characters felt Christina, I tend to struggle with those who read younger than they are. I think I'll take a pass on this one for now, but fabulous review:)

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    1. Yes, if you aren't sure about this book, I definitely would urge you to pick up her Tudor novels. Gilt was my favorite. Thanks for visiting, Jenny.

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  4. i need to read all three of these! so many books, so little time!!

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    1. I hear you!!! I recommend starting with Gilt first. Thanks for visiting, Carrie!

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    1. It's very Downton….definitely fun and the MC reminded me a lot of Sybil and Mary. Thanks for dropping by, Ashley!

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