Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (Book 1: The Mysterious Howling) - by Maryrose Wood

I like many, many things about this book. I'm going to tell you
about some of them, but not all. Because what I liked best about
this book was that I just looked at the front cover, liked it and
bought it. In other words, I somehow never got down to reading
the back cover. And I'm so glad I didn't, because it made it
such a delightful surprise for me to open the book, start reading,
and discover for myself exactly why those children were Incorrigible.

I don't want to deny you that pleasure, so I'm not going to tell you
much about the story. What I will tell you is that Maryrose
out-Snickets Lemony. She surpasses him, yes she does.
I found her storytelling more interesting, her humour more subtle,
and her style of 'speaking' to the reader more natural.

The story is set in 19th century England, and is told from
the perspective of  a young fifteen-year-old, Penelope Lumley.
There's a sprinkling of Jane Eyreishness about it; no Mr. Rochester
though (perhaps he'll emerge in Book 2, The Hidden Gallery).

Miss Lumley, a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy
for Poor Bright Females, travels to Ashton Place in response
to this newspaper advertisement:

"Wanted Immediately:  Energetic Governess for Three Lively
Children. Knowledge of French, Latin, History, Etiquette,
Drawing and Music will be Required - Experience with Animals 
Strongly Preferred."

After a brief and somewhat odd interview with the lady of the house,
Penelope is hired:

"And with that, they both affixed their signatures to the bottom 
of the letter of terms that Lord Ashton had prepared. Penelope 
hardly thought this necessary, but Lady Constance assured her 
that signed, binding contracts were the custom in these parts, 
a charming formality which she would not dream of omitting."

So Penelope becomes governess for the three alphabetically-christened
Incorrigibles - Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia.

This is where the story really begins! Unfortunately, this is also
where I have to stop telling you anything more about it so as
not to spoil the surprise! Just know that this is one of the most
scrumptious children's books I've come across in a long time,
and it must be read!

Do not begin to assume you know exactly what an Incorrigible child
is like, because you do not. Not this kind of Incorrigible.
Any expectations that you have about the storyline are going
to be in shreds. Which reminds me,

Do not succumb to the temptation of reading the back cover. Also,

Do not fear the wrath of Lemony Snicket should your loyalties sway. 

Do not think you are too old/educated/busy to read this book.
Finally, and most importantly,

Do not die without having read this book.

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