Book Beginnings – The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

This is a meme hosted by Rose City Reader.  They ask that you post the first line(s) to the book you are currently reading and share some feelings on the book.  I’m tweaking this a bit and I’m going to share first lines of books/stories, written by, about, or in the theme of Jane Austen.

This week I’m taking my opening from The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen.  I had recommended an earlier book by the same author back in 2012, The Apothecary’s Daughter. I had enjoyed the book but never returned to read another one of Klassen’s books.  The Secret of Pembrooke Park was on the New Books Shelf at work and the title and cover caught my eye.

London, England

May 1817
     I sat across the table from the man I most admired, feeling self-conscious. How I wished I’d taken more time with my appearance. But my meeting with the housekeeper had run long, allowing me barely enough time to wash my face and repin my hair in a simple coil. I had planned to wear a new evening dress – golden satin with red roses embroidered throughout the bodice – but instead I’d slipped into the plain ivory gown I usually wore. It had far fewer fastenings.

The Secret of Pembrooke ParkAbigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister. 

When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger? 

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