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Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor: A Novel by…

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor: A Novel

by Melanie Dobson

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416433,750 (4.25)1
"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"--Publisher.



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Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson is a stand-alone novel with beautiful storytelling, a haunting mystery, and a dash of romance. Although I predicted a few of the twists, the novel is well-written and captured my attention from the start. I found myself surprised by the ending.

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor bravely addresses some serious topics. Generational patterns, deceit, and consequences play out through raw and painful situations. While reading, I sometimes found myself getting really sad. It seemed like tragedy after tragedy occurred in the characters’ lives. While I appreciate the authenticity, it made me so sad that I don’t think I would read this story again.

I recommend Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson to readers looking for a well-written, captivating mystery. ( )
  BeautyintheBinding | Sep 18, 2019 |
Title: Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor
Author: Melanie Dobson
Pages: 339
Year: 2015
Publisher: Howard Books
Heather Toulson travels to England from her home in Oregon to clean out her parent’s house in preparation for selling it. She discovers some drawings made by her sister and begins asking questions about her. While growing up, Heather never really received any definitive answers about her sister and how she died. Heather wants to tie up loose ends as she doesn’t intend to ever return to England. However, while she asks her questions, she runs into an old boyfriend.
Maggie Doyle is the matriarch of the family. She seems to live in fear of abandonment as her parents died during WWII and she was sent to live with a foster family. She seeks affirmation and love, but from the wrong source. She makes a decision that will change her life and the lives of those in her immediate circle. Her daughter, Libby, is unlike other children and presents challenges as she grows up as people don’t consider her “normal”. Maggie loves her daughter fiercely, but her husband Walter keeps Libby at a distance initially. As times goes on, Maggie again makes another decision based on fear with heart-breaking results for Heather.
This story alternates between the 1950s and the present day in England. I enjoyed the story for the most part, but what I found not realistic was that all three women characters in the story made the same choice with the same result. There were plenty of secrets in the story that kept it interesting, but I would have liked more action as in Ms. Dobson’s previous book, Chateau of Secrets, which I really liked. There was a lot of deception taking place among many characters and choices made out of love or fear with far-reaching consequences. Walter was the best character in the book and I really liked how toward the end of his life he tried his best to take care of Libby, teaching her about God.
My rating is 4 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” ( )
  lcjohnson1988 | Dec 10, 2015 |
Friday, July 31, 2015
Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson, © 2015

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. --2 Corinthians 12:9

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is a strong story of generations following each other in sequels with love so powerful it can break every obstacle in its path and past. Cycles that have not been broken except by God. Self-doubt and uncertainties brink exposure when we decide for another of what we think they would do. Time has been lost because of omitted observations that love could have healed, that acceptance would epoxy the breaks back together stronger than they were apart.

Libby Doyle is free to be who she is without hindrance until others try to encapsulate her into their mold. Walter Doyle sees who she is, perfect as she is, loved forever.

Melanie Dobson has brought to the forefront what can happen for families when seeing others as they are does not hinder but frees them to express all they are meant to be. Full, content, loved, accepted, and not hidden away. So reminiscent of Psalm 139, The Message ~

Shadows appear from intercepting light, reflected. Readiness to accept each other and not hide away. After the passing of her parents, Walter and Maggie Doyle, Heather Toulson and her newly married daughter, Ella, return from the States to their Willow Cottage in the village of Bibury, the Cotswolds, England, to ready it for sale.

"If the answers are still around, I have no doubt you'll find them." Instead of looking toward Ladenbrooke, Heather stared at the old stone cottage ahead of her––the home for Ladenbrooke's gardeners, decades before Oliver died.
--Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, 44

I liked how the story was told in first person from each participant character, rather than about, so you could grasp their thoughts and resulting actions. Flowing between each generation's "now" broadened the story to encompass a backstory and a hope for the future.

Love is very powerful ~ for God is Love

A life left in collected memories of the past unraveled in the future as Heather and Ella attempt to sort through the stored boxes, some labeled, others not. Are our lives that way? Some parts available for all to see, transparent and open, while others are of no function but have made us who we are in their completeness? All is revealed but like a puzzle, piece-by-piece, until it all together becomes a tapestry. A similar clip has been told of a magazine page given to a young boy as a puzzle map of the United States. He was asked how he did it so fast. He said he put the pieces of the man together on the other side and it all came together.

Each generation interweaves with the other as the mystery unfolds, leaving them bare. What has each person selected to do with the information that has fallen into place? Forgiveness and exposure can bring peace and solidity to each member, putting to rest suppositions. I liked how it was all woven together, guessing what might happen, until the very end, revealing why previous parts fell away. Truth became alive bringing brilliance to lives! God's Truth and redemption remove shame and imperfections ~ walls His light shines on both sides, removing shadows that hinder, freeing us to love and live in His grace.

***Thank you to author Melanie Dobson for inviting me to review her newest novel, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor. Thank you to the publisher, Howard Books, for this review copy. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.*** ( )
  lanehillhouse | Jul 31, 2015 |
Family secrets are at the center of Melanie Dobson’s newest novel, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor. Taking place over a span of 65 years, this mystery/family saga was slow to capture my attention, but as more and more was revealed by the author, I found myself having a hard time putting this novel down. If you are looking for a good end of summer read, then this book could be just what you are looking for.

Maggie and Walter Doyle’s early days of marriage are happy, but shadowed by secrets kept by Maggie. When deceits come to light they escape to a new place and a new life. But just as they think that their family has a chance at lasting happiness, their daughter Libby’s strangeness and the attentions of the Lord’s son bring new worries. Forty-five years later, Maggie and Walter’s second daughter returns to sort through the remains of her late parents’ life and to find a peace that has eluded her. But more secrets have a way of coming to light.

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor was slow and a bit confusing to me at first. Points of view shift between Walter’s journal, past events and present day. It took me a while to get into the book’s rhythm, but once I did, I immersed myself in the twisting and poignant tale of love, betrayal, deceit and forgiveness. The characters are very flawed. They make huge mistakes. And it is the message of forgiveness that makes the story so encouraging. Despite our mistakes, we have a Father who will forgive and set us on a right path again. My favorite character, Walter, was the one I most disliked at the beginning, yet came to love for his sacrificial love and care of the women in his life. Dobson’s exploration of the lies that people tell to protect the ones they love, which instead cause greater damage and invite division and estrangement, is excellent.

Complex in its writing style and themes, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is a deeply moving novel that I recommend.


Audience: adults.

(Thanks to LitFuse and Howard Books for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.) ( )
  vintagebeckie | Jul 24, 2015 |
Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor: A Novel
Melanie Dobson

Book Summary: 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.

Review: This is another home run for me. I was glued to the book and was not disappointed. The characters were solid and the story was well written. I did not want the experience to end. Going back and forth between the present and past drove the story and helped to understand and root for even the characters I might not agree with yet so believable it made me want to go find the Ladenbrooke Manor. From beginning to end time stood still and these people were so real that I forgot I was reading a fiction book. I wanted to know all the people and by the end no one can say that for a little while these characters were real. The mistakes that take on a fantastic beauty of forgiveness, love and tragedy. That these characters were so real and had a depth of character that I am richer just for having read this. Ms. Dobson took the failings of these people and wove beautiful story of redemption. The richness of this story and the previous book are a benefit to every reader who wants to experience life’s complexities even if it is only vicarious. The world is more vivid and people are a mystery worth interacting with just to uncover the longings of an individual and sharing these triumphs that sometimes seem so tragic at the start.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Howard Books for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone. ( )
  Robin661 | Jun 16, 2015 |
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