Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson
Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is the collision of three generations of stories. The setting jumps back and forth between the past and present, which is noted by the date on the past sections and a different font used for each time-frame. The story starts with Maggie and later moves to Libby, but much of the book is viewed through the eyes of Heather, our present-day main character. Without giving away any spoilers, I can say this is a story about history repeating itself. It’s also a tale of secrets–from family, from others–and what happens when they come out. I enjoyed this story very much. There’s a definite twist that the author lets us in on late in the story, but well before the characters pick up on it. This book is a mystery of sorts, mainly of family heritage and a suspicious death. It’s not super intense, which I actually liked. It’s interesting and realistic and sheds a light on how people with disabilities were viewed in the past. Libby likely falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, but no one knew that in her time. The author paints a picture of what life was like and mentions how different things are today. It’s ultimately a story of family and forgiveness, how truth can heal wounds. There are a lot of moving parts, which took some getting used to. Early on I had to keep looking back to remember which character was which. That being said, I’m very glad I read Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, and I hope you’ll read it, too. The book is extremely well written and includes beautiful descriptions of gardens and manors. I strongly suggest you read the author’s note after finishing the story, as I found it informative and a nice conclusion to the book. Highly recommended for fans of inspirational fiction, family sagas, and mild suspense.
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.
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About the author:
The Story Behind Shadows of Ladebrooke Manor — from The Litfuse Blog
Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Where does a writer find inspiration? What’s the hardest part about writing a book? What do you hope your writing achieves? We’ve asked Melanie Dobson to tell us the story behind Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor. Read our interview with Melanie to learn more!
Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?
Researching and writing a novel is a little bit like working on a puzzle—I find pieces of inspiration from all sorts of places and then try to fit those pieces together to create a story. For Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, I was inspired by a number of things: the manor homes and gardens in England, the process to restore damaged artwork, the beauty and migration of butterflies, parents who fight for their autistic children, unique, talented kids who don’t always fit into society’s box of normal, and most of all, by the power of God to redeem and restore broken relationships.
What was the hardest part about writing your latest novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?
Middles have always been my greatest challenge. I start writing a novel excited about the beginning, and I have a fairly good idea of how the story will end. Weaving together all the threads in the middle is hard for me though. I’ve learned to press on, and then come back and edit once I’ve written the last chapter of my book.
What do you love most about your main character?
My main characters are four generations of Doyle women, and one man—Walter Doyle—who loved all of them. Walter and each of these women are crucial to the story, but I’ll pick Libby sinceShadows of Ladenbrooke Manor revolves around what happened to her. I love Libby’s creativity, her desire for relationships even when they are difficult, her loyalty to Oliver Croft, and her passion to paint beautiful butterflies.
When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?
Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor was my exploration of God’s light shining through the shadows of life, along with the beauty and power of His restoration through generations. The story is ultimately about transformation — how even in the hardest situations God can weave together a story of hope and redemption and create incredible beauty from the ashes of our lives. When readers finish reading this novel, I hope they are inspired to see God working through the shadows in their own life.
What are you working on next?
Right now I’m writing another novel set in England, and I’m editing a magical middle grade series that I wrote with my daughters.