Romance Meets Mystery in This Delightful Period Fiction for Tweens
Katherine’s Story, 1848
by Adele Whitby
Series: Secrets of the Manor (Book 4)
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Simon Spotlight
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Twins Katherine and Elizabeth Chatswood are on their way to visit their distant relatives at Vandermeer Manor in Rhode Island. Wedding bells will soon be ringing for their father’s cousin, John Vandermeer, in the most magnificent event on either side of the ocean since the twins’ birthday ball a few months ago.
John Vandermeer’s fianceé is the famous writer, Anna DuMay. The girls are instantly struck by her kindness and independent nature. Anna is a woman at the forefront of the social changes beginning to take place in America and she has many friends who attended the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention that summer.
But then something very precious inside the manor gets vandalized, and the groom threatens to call the wedding off, believing that Anna might have had something to do with it. Everyone is devastated, but the truth has a way of coming to light. The twins don’t know it yet, but they might hold the key that will set true love back on its destined course.
Katherine’s Story, 1848, the fourth in her Secrets of the Manor series, is Adele Whitby’s best book to date. With a story line independent of twelfth birthday balls and gifted jewelry heirlooms, Whitby has ample space to stretch her wings.
This story allows us to better know Katherine, who turns out to be my favorite of the four family heroines presented thus far. During Elizabeth’s Story, I had an itch to hear more of Katherine’s voice, and Katherine’s Story delivers without disappointment. The minutes-older and smidgeon-taller Elizabeth is bolder and brasher than the more thoughtful and measured Katherine. However, with her gentle manner and introspective ways, Katherine has her own charm.
From the transatlantic voyage by paddle steamer to the six-hour journey by coach from Boston to Bridgeport, there is an air of adventure and anticipation that is tangible and contagious. For our reading pleasure, in addition to our twin sisters, we are accompanied by two youthful male counterparts, Maxwell Tynne, the girls’ cousin and Elizabeth’s future spouse by arranged marriage, and Alfred Vandermeer, the son of their American relation.
In this instance, the grand occasion central to the plot is not a party for either girl but a wedding between the Chatswoods’ distant American relations. This momentous union happens to be a remarriage with which it appears not everyone is thrilled. And when a valuable artifact goes missing and is later found vandalized, it appears wedding bells will not be ringing after all. Emboldened by her reading of mysteries written by the bride-to-be’s literary friend Louisa Branson (a name inspired by Branson Alcott and his famous daughter, perhaps?), Katherine is determined to follow in the footsteps of fictional detective Miss Millhouse to find the culprit and save the day.
Both the interaction between our young ladies and gentlemen and the larger thread of the upcoming nuptials of Henry Vandermeer and Anna Dumay explore the contrast between tradition and modernity. Traditionally, marriage, especially by firstborns, was viewed through many lenses — none of which were generally love — to determine whether or not a match was beneficial and proper. Times were changing, though. Led by pioneers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women were demanding a say in their lives and futures. And marriage for love was something many were brave enough to try. Would love be at the center of this marriage and the future pairings of the Chatswood sisters? Read the Secrets of the Manor series to find out!
— Dawn Teresa
4.5 of 5 Hearts. Romance Meets Mystery in This Delightful Period Fiction for Tweens.
With Katherine’s Story, 1848, Adele Whitby pens her finest fiction to date. This fourth book in the series has the broadest scope, offering a glimpse at how American and British life differed, while showing how modern thought, especially in America, was changing tradition. Fittingly, it’s just the time to explore modernity, as book five will launch us forward to 1934.