Title: Manor of Secrets
Author: Katherine Longshore
Published: Scholastic on January 28, 2014
Synopsis: 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.
I received an eARC copy from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.
I have to admit, I'm a big fan of Historical Fiction. It's one of my favorite genres. I was really excited to read this book because of its comparison to Downtown Abbey, which I love! This book, like Downton, is set in the Edwardian era which is a really interesting period in history. It's a time of transition and change in the world. What Manor of Secrets does really well is set that tone of the period. The characters are caught between their contrasting feelings of knowing their place and finding where they belong in a changing world. It was well researched and allowed the reader to be immersed in the world and the lives of the characters. Many of the attitudes and actions of the characters felt very realistic and historically accurate.
The book did have some problems however. The plot was interesting and enjoyable but incredibly muddled at times. It started out really strong and had a strong ending but in the middle there were lots of moments that didn't feel fully-formed. There were ideas that seemed to be introduced and then completely abandoned, and plot points that were thrown in out of the blue just to connect A to B. Not to mention there were two distinct climaxes. When the final climax was reached and the last secret was revealed I was not completely surprised. I had predicted the main aspect of this twist before I was even a quarter of the way through the book and I found myself spending most of my reading seeing the clues for this conclusion.
But the plot was redeemed by the characters. They were all interesting and likable. You see the world of the Manor through the eyes of our two protagonists. First there is Lady Charlotte, the wealthy heiress with an active imagination and dreams of adventure, romance, and a life beyond her social constructs. Then there is Janie the feisty kitchen maid who isn't afforded the luxury to dream and hoping to find where she belongs and to be with the people she loves. There is also a host of compelling and interesting secondary characters both upstairs and downstairs. You spend most of the book becoming attached to these characters and when their unlikely friendship starts both of their worlds unraveling you cannot help but want them to win in the end. There were moments where I wanted to scream at them but also moments where I wanted to cry with them.
The book was also full of great themes about not only finding your place in the world but also lovely and relatable themes about friendships, family and, getting to know people before you judge them. The characters have to learn the hard way that things and people are not always what they seem and that the people who matter are those who help you out when things get tough. This was especially true when it came to the romance in this book. My favorite part without a doubt was the romance. In my most recent Top Ten Tuesday post I mentioned that one of the things on my reading wish list is books where the romance grows over time and that is exactly what happened in this book. The romances didn't fully develop until the book was almost completely over and as the reader the couples that I was shipping were the ones that ended up together. It was very satisfying and refreshing to see Young Adult romances where the romances blossom out of friendships instead of crushes.
On the whole Manor of Secrets was a quick read and a good Historical Fiction set in the Edwardian era.
I give it a 7.5 out of 10
I recommend Manor of Secrets to anyone who like YA Historical Fiction, anyone who likes romance, and anyone who likes the Edwardian Era or Downton Abbey. If you've read Manor of Secrets leave me a comment and of course HAPPY READING!