I am not a world traveler, but I have been to Great Britain twice and on the first trip was fortunate to travel to the Cotswolds, small picturesque villages that include Stratford on Avon and Bath, When I read the first page of Melanie Dobson's new book SHADOWS OF LADENBROOKE MANOR and learned it was set in a Cotswold village, I so wanted the book to capture special essence of those villages. While the village does not play a crucial role in the story, the huge manor at its edge and the small cottage next to the grounds does. And so do the gardens, so I was not disappointed. I am not going to share much of the story; you can read the publisher's blurb for that. Instead let me tell you that Dobson has created a world of magic amidst a backdrop of secrets and tragedy. At the center is Libby, who is not like other children, but whose connection to butterflies and artistic talent might remind you of a young Beatrix Potter. As I read, I could almost imagine the fantasy butterfly world Libby created for herself and wished there really was a book of her paintings. There have been many recent novels with a protagonist who returns home years after leaving, only to uncover secrets kept from them when younger. SHADOWS OF LADENBROOKE fits into that category. It also fits into the category of returning to find a lost love. But neither category captures the mystery, pain, and beauty of this book. I hope that Melanie Dobson continues to write. And while I am waiting, maybe I will sit among my flowers, watch the butterflies, and imagine what Libby would see. I received a copy of this title for my honest review. MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOKShadows of Ladenbrooke Manor(Howard, June 2015)
When Heather Toulson returns to her parents’ cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.
Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.
Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.
Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways.
Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of thirteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and "Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana" won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010. Melanie lives with her husband Jon and two daughters near Portland, Oregon.
COMING TO TERMS WITH YOUR FAMILY’S SECRETS
AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR PENS EPIC MULTI-GENERATIONAL STORY ABOUT THE COST OF LIVING AUTHENTICALLY
6/12/2015 || Seattle: Every family has secrets they’d prefer to stay hidden, but where is the line between protecting the ones you love and simple self-preservation? The theme of Melanie Dobson’s sweeping new novel, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor (Howard Books/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 9781476746142/$14.99) is how the choices of a few can impact generations.
In Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor we meet young Libby Doyle, a free spirit who spends much of her time dancing with the butterflies in Ladenbrooke’s gardens. Even though she struggles socially, Libby is enchanted by the beauty of the butterflies.
Libby has captivated the heart of Oliver Croft, the young heir of Ladenbrooke Manor. When Oliver’s body is found drowned in the River Coln, authorities search for answers but find none. Soon after, Libby vanishes, and her parents, Walter and Maggie Doyle, wonder what happened between their daughter and the boy who lived next door.
If Libby were born today rather than in the 1950s, she would fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Dobson’s reasons for including this element were personal. “My oldest daughter has sensory processing issues, and we have friends with children on the spectrum. These children often struggle with relationships but can also be incredibly bright people, such as Libby, who excel at art or science or whatever talents God has given them. In this story I wanted to celebrate these kids and encourage moms who might feel hopeless and alone.”
Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor slips back and forth between the 1950s and a contemporary story where we meet Heather, the Doyles’ daughter. She returns to her family’s cottage to sort through her parents’ belongings, where she uncovers a string of shocking secrets that leave her wondering if anything her mother said about her childhood was true. “Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated,” Dobson concedes. “I love when women of different generations are honest with one another about their weaknesses and offer each other grace, just as Christ gave freely to each of us.”
As Heather sorts through the belongings left behind in the cottage, trying to separate truth from deceit, she has an uncomfortable reunion with her first love. Together, they unravel a mystery that will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.
Award-winning author Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery to reveal how the Doyle and Croft families are entwined. Set in a charming world of thatched cottages and lush English gardens, this mystery highlights how God’s light cuts through the shadows of life, bringing transformation and restoration and creating beauty from the ashes of our lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of 14 historical romance, suspense and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010.
Dobson received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master’s degree in communication from Regent University. She worked in publicity and journalism for more than 15 years, including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel. Prior to launching her own public relations company in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family.
Dobson and her husband, Jon, enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest with their two daughters. When she isn’t writing or playing with her family, Dobson enjoys exploring ghost towns, line dancing and reading historical fiction.