Saturday, January 11, 2014
Manor of Secrets, by Katherine Longshore
A chance encounter in the woods outside the estate (where neither girl is supposed to be) brings them together in friendship and secret rebellion against the roles they must play. It also helps them see the truth behind the rosy appearance of each other's lives. However, the manor won't tolerate any fraternizing between upstairs and downstairs. Too much is at stake in the calcified hierarchy that has developed. As the two girls grow closer, the scandal that is unleashed throws the entire household into disorder.
With an obvious debt to Upstairs Downstairs and Manor House (and probably Downtown Abbey as well), we get a junior version of the Georgian soap opera genre. It's highly sanitized and a bit too Americanized for my tastes, but I can see the appeal. Glamorous gowns, some forbidden love, a little acting out, and a whole lot of convenient coincidences in the end to make it wrap up neatly. It would seem to be a perfect candidate for moderate commercial success and maybe even spawn a sequel (and a few copycats). It's not great literature, but that's not its role either.
[Disclosure: I received an ARC from Point-Scholastic for the purposes of reviewing this book (it is scheduled for release on January 28), but no other compensation for my consideration]