Sentimental Period Drama for Tweens
Elizabeth’s Story, 1848
by Adele Whitby
Series: Secrets of the Manor (Book 3)
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Simon Spotlight
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Elizabeth and Katherine Chatswood are on the verge of turning twelve years old, which means that the grandest birthday ball in all of England is just a few weeks away! Chatswood Manor is bustling with activity, but in the midst of all the excitement, an Irish refugee named Sean O’Brien shows up in search of his long lost wife Maggie, who was employed at Chatswood Manor many years ago. Mr. O’Brien is turned away by Chatswood’s stern butler, but not before Elizabeth and Katherine hear his story. Through Mr. O’Brien they also find out about the potato famine in Ireland, and are shocked and saddened to hear that so many people are suffering in a place that’s not that far away. The twins vow to not only help Mr. O’Brien find Maggie, but also to somehow help the people of Ireland.
But how are two young girls in a manor home in England going to help starving people in Ireland? After their papa tells them it’s not their problem to worry about fixing, they have no choice but to come up with a very ambitious—and very top secret—plan. Meanwhile, as they investigate Maggie’s disappearance, they uncover some startling clues, which lead them to discover even deeper mysteries hidden within Chatswood Manor.
The year is 1848 and twin sisters Elizabeth and Katherine are looking forward to a grand birthday ball. Everyone is going to be there! They’ve even invited the Queen (sadly, Queen Victoria is unable to attend as she has recently given birth to Princess Louise).
This third book in the Secrets of the Manor series transports us back in time to where the Chatswood family secrets began. Elizabeth and Katherine are the great-grandmothers of Beth and Kate from books 1 and 2. It’s interesting to watch the birth of this tale, and book 3 could easily serve as an entry point to the series. Though, if you then went backwards to the first pair of books, you’d spoil the secrets held therein. That said, I’d recommend starting at the beginning – which is, interestingly enough, the middle of the timeline (books 5 and 6 jump ahead to 1934).
Elizabeth and Katherine aren’t altogether very different from their future great-granddaughters. Though the novel’s brevity prevents in-depth character development, the two sisters are drawn precisely enough that the reader can separate one from the other. As in prior installments, our protagonists are at the center of some upstairs/downstairs drama. This time, the headstrong Elizabeth and her graceful other half Katherine are swept into a 20 year-old mystery surrounding an Irishman who has traveled to Chatswood Manor looking for his wife. Against the wishes of the butler, Mr. Fellows, the girls are determined to help the stranger. The twins’ heartstrings are tugged by the mysterious man, especially as they’ve recently learned of the devastating effects of the Irish Potato Famine.
Whitby has successfully penned another pleasing period drama. Though careful, clever readers may guess where the signs are pointing, the author steers her ship with dexterity, maintaining the reader’s interest and emotional investment throughout. With Elizabeth’s Story, 1848, Whitby once more tells a satisfying complete tale. However, at story’s end, I’m again ready and willing to jump into the next installment to follow the progression of the larger story arc.
— Dawn Teresa
4 of 5 Hearts. Sentimental Period Drama for Tweens.
Elizabeth’s Story, 1848 affords a glimpse into the lives of sisters Elizabeth and Katherine Chatswood. As readers get to know these twins, they’ll learn about the importance of family, witness an unbreakable bond of sisterhood, and discover the origins of the secrets of Chatswood Manor.