Charlotte is bored. Bored of the endless parties and visits she is expected to attend being the daughter of a Lord in the stuffy, rigid British society of the early 1900s. She feels like she’s missing out on life. Her mother seems to have no ambitions for Charlotte other than to be married off quickly, to the highest Lord who will offer for her.
One day at a garden party, where Charlotte is trying to avoid the man her mother seems to be forcing on her, Charlotte’s friend Fran spots a girl making her way around the edge of the party, heading toward the woods. Fran is incensed that a servant would have the tenacity to shirk her work load during a party no less, and decides to follow her to find out what she is up to. All Charlotte can think is how wonderful it would be to slink off herself. She and Fran confront the girl, with Fran doing most of the confronting, and shoo her back to the main manor house. But it gets Charlotte thinking about all the things she will miss when she is summarily married off in a year or two.
Janie is annoyed. If she wanted to sneak off for a moment to cool off from the stifling heat of the kitchen, it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Still, she loves her job, being close to her mother, the head Cook at the Manor, and doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize her position. Even conversing with the handsome footman, Lawrence, could lead to problems, and a possible sacking if she isn’t careful. So when Lady Charlotte shows up in the kitchen, wanting to talk with Janie, she knows this can only lead to problems, and she’s right. Throw on top of that a visit from Charlotte’s long lost Aunt, and things really get interesting. Turns out there is a big secret the Manor has been hiding, for years.
Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore is a wonderful period piece which has a little of something for everyone. It is set during a time when servants and their masters were beginning to see a change in the once rock solid fabric of society in Britain. Being content to be a servant, or a member of the lower class wasn’t good enough anymore for many people. Having to hold to the suffocating restrictions of the upper class wasn’t much easier for many. Charlotte and Janie must navigate through this minefield if they are going to come out unscathed on the other side.
Recommended for grades 6th and up.