The Secret of Pembrooke Park written by Julie Klassen and published by Bethany House Publishers (2014) is the type of book you want to curl up with in front of a warm fire. It is filled with mystery, romance and adventure. Set in England in 1817, it will delight you with details of a society where young women enjoyed a season of fashion and social events. It also contains the depth of blossoming spiritual discovery for the main characters.

The story centers on Abigail Foster, a young woman in her early twenties who has some wonderful and practical qualities. She is pretty, but she feels her younger sister, Louisa, is the beauty of the family.

Abigail is secretly in love with Gilbert Scott, a neighbor and friend from childhood. Gilbert is headed for Italy to study architecture for a year. At his going away dinner, Abigail spies him having a quick tête-à-tête with Louisa. It seems minor, but then when Gilbert tells Abigail they should not “shackle themselves with promises,” while he is away, she wonders if he will ever return her affection. She is afraid she has lost him.

We soon learn that, with Abigail’s advice, her father has made an unwise investment. The family has lost a great deal of money and must give up their fashionable home. A solicitor, on behalf of an anonymous client, offers to rent Pembrooke Park to the Fosters for a low price. The house, located some distance away, has been empty for a number of years. Abigail and her father decide to move in immediately. Her mother and sister will join them when the London Season has come to a close.

When Abigail and her father arrive at Pembrooke Park, they discover the house was suddenly and mysterious vacated. Father and daughter meet the Chapmans. Mr. Chapman used to be a caretaker at Pembrooke Park. He and his family reside in their own home, except for Mr. Chapman’s son, William. William is a curate and lives in the parsonage close by. Abigail becomes friendly with all of the Chapmans, and William in particular. William admires her as well.

Not long after moving in, Abigail hears strange noises at night. There are rumors that the house contains a secret room and a hidden treasure. Abigail receives letters from one of the house’s former residents. The letters come in the form of pages ripped from the diary of a girl who once lived there. The pages are unsigned, but Abigail suspects they are from Harriet, a former resident. Increasingly, Abigail becomes interested in the history of her new home and seeks to solve its mystery.

The plot continues to twist and turn. I don’t want to give the ending away, but it is fascinating to watch how all the parts of this story come together. During this story, Abigail is growing closer to the Lord and beginning to understand what Christianity is all about. Through her relationship with William and hearing his sermons weekly, she grows in her faith and is able to seek Him through all the trials she faces. She realizes that what she really wants is the treasure of God’s love and to use her life to glorify Him.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park is a great story for women eighteen years and older.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

 

 

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