I just finished Julie Klassen’s The Secret of Pembrooke Park this week, and it was mysterious and inspirational! The contrast of a fallen-from-wealth young woman who had recently relocated to the mysterious Pembrooke Park, with an average curate of a friendly but close-lipped local family of strong reputation, was intriguing. As was my lingering suspicion throughout the novel that certain characters (who shall not be named) were either not who they appeared to be or were more than they appeared to be. (I was right about some of my suspicions, too! 😉 )
This was the author’s longest novel yet, I think, and I found myself not minding terribly. Abigail is a mix of capability, manners, detective, courage, and uncertainty. She sees herself as the practical sister–which she is, more so than young Louisa–but Abigail turns out to be far more than just that in this book. William’s family alternately made me laugh and speculate, and it was clear from the beginning that this story was heavily sifted with mystery, largely from their puzzling and “character-full” contributions to the plot.
I hesitate to say much more, since I loathe giving up spoilers in a mystery novel, but I’ll say that parts of the revealing conclusion surprised me and others didn’t. If you’ve spent as many years reading and watching mysteries and whodunits as I have, you might guess a detail or few before Klassen reveals it, but that’s just part of the fun! And you’ll want to keep reading to discover the rest, or to confirm your theories. 🙂
Not sure I would label this novel a favorite, but that’s just me. It is a well-written, well-crafted story, and I’ll keep reading Julie Klassen’s books in the future.
Recommended for: mature adult and older teenage readers who favor inspirational romantic/suspense fiction; fans of Regency-era inspirational fiction; those who enjoy some mystery and faith mixed into their romances.
Warning: Sweet and clean inspirational historical romance, but this novel does include danger, retellings of murders in some (NOT gory) detail, and mentions of behavior by one character with less than appropriate actions for a young lady in Regency times. However, anyone about 16 and up would enjoy this story, and possibly a more mature 14 or 15.
My rating: 4/5 stars