A riveting story of love, hate, deception, forgiveness and mystery in a multi-generational arc. "Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor" by Melanie Dobson accomplished what many novels cannot. It gave us a story that so seamlessly tied together the stories of different generations all in one book. A heavy, yet easy read. Heavy because the amount of depth of characters and plot it was able to achieve. Easy, because you're excited to read it, to continue and finish it. Because you want to know the answer, just like the women in this story.
with a magnificent garden after the death of her father. As she goes through the many many boxes of contents left there by her parents, she discovered a story and a mystery left unanswered. As she comb through and investigate her family history and its connections to Ladenbrooke Manor, and the family of her old love, what will she find? Will the shadows and secrets that lurk behind one's hearts reveal itself?
As mentioned before, Ms. Dobson created a series of characters, all so well developed that you can't help feeling like you know them personally. You, as the reader will feel like you're looking through their eyes, seeing and feeling what they see and feel. As Maggie, a sense of guilt that eats at you. As Libby, a sense of frustration of not understanding what happened and a tightness others can't understand. As Heather, what secrets and regrets will she harbor from those she love?
I also must give props for Ms. Dobson on the amount of research she obviously have done for this book. From the English countryside, to the beautiful gardens, to personal and family dynamics of a family member with autism in the 1950s, and what it means; Ms. Dobson really gave her readers a visual and understanding of the setting and themes in her novel. I look forward to her other novels with the same diligence she gave "Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor".
I don't want to give away anything, but I must say with all the characters Ms. Dobson created in "Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor", it is Walter Doyle's character that pulls at me the most. His sacrifice, his understanding, his disappointment and his love for his family and ultimately God, bound these women, and many generations after together. It is him, that gave light to Maggie, Libby and ultimately Heather. It is through him, his character (and the story itself) that we think about our own shadows. Maybe like him, we can use our shadows to be of service to others, just as God used our shadows to bless us. Something to think about. In the meantime, enjoy this compelling story that you won't be able to put down.
NOTE: I received a advanced complimentary uncorrected proof copy from the publisher, Howard Books through Litfuse Publicity Group for an honest review.