When Samuel Godwin, a young and naive art tutor, accepts a job with the Farrow family at their majestic home, little does he expect to come across a place containing such secrets and lies. His two tutees are as different as can be--younger sister Marianne, full of flightiness and nervous imagination, and Juliana, sensible and controlled. Helped by their governess, Charlotte Agnew, Samuel begins to uncover slowly why Marianne is so emotionally fragile, and in doing so uncovers a web of intrigue. But his discoveries lead to revenge and betrayal--and lives all around are turned upside down.
Linda Newbery has written a novel in diary style, combining different voices and a different century with her usual brilliance and ease. These are characters full of the same passions as our own today, while living in an unfamiliar and fascinating time.
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Linda Newbery is the author of over twenty books for children and young adults, and lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and three cats. The author lives in England.From School Library Journal:
Grade 8 Up—The setting, set-up, and characters in this entertaining suspense novel are pure Victorian Gothic. At the close of the 19th century, an earnest young artist named Samuel Godwin has been hired by a wealthy man to tutor his elder daughter at their magnificent country estate. Samuel arrives by foot on a moonlit night, hears wild shrieking in the woods, and encounters a seemingly mad young girl in a nightdress before he reaches the front door. Pushing his forebodings aside, Samuel enters the life of the household and becomes obsessed with the vibrant younger sister, Marianne, who is a talented artist. The secluded mansion is a hothouse of repressed emotions, and Samuel begins to suspect that this family is a lot more complicated than it appears. His sleuthing leads to a crescendo of climactic revelations. Readers learn that there is a secret baby, that the baby is the older daughter's son, and that the prime suspect for fatherhood is gay and so "couldn't" have fathered the child. This is just the beginning. There is incest, another unacknowledged child, an attempted suicide, and the accidental-on-purpose drowning of the predatory father during a raging storm. The potboiler action would seem to presage an equally dramatic ending. But the final pages are more autumnal in mood, a look back on the compromises and losses throughout the characters' lives. Only Marianne appears unscathed; still vibrant, she leads a bohemian life of art and lovers, in the very house her father built.—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
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