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Donaldson, "Edenbrooke" (reviewed by Karen Hamilton) Options · View
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 8:14:38 AM

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Title: Edenbrooke
Author: Julianne Donaldson
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Fiction
Year Published: 2012
Number of Pages: 255
Binding: Paperback
ISBN13: 978-1-60908-946-7
Price: $15.99

Reviewed by Karen Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters

Julianne Donaldson has a fine and very rare gift in her storytelling. She has woven a rich tapestry as the background for this book. The story takes place in 1816 England. This is a time where societal structure was more ridged than it is now. The details are vivid and yet don’t overwhelm the reader with unnecessary clutter.

Marianne Daventry is a seventeen year old young lady, who should have been presented to society, but is living in Bath with her Grandmother. She is sent to stay with her Grandmother and Aunt Amelia after the death of her mother. Her father is on the Continent to mourn. For the last year Marianne has been losing hope that her father will ever come back to England and take her home.

Marianne has a twin sister, Cecily, who loves being the center of attention and has been staying in London with their cousin, Edith. After a year of mourning, Cecily has begun going to balls, the theater, musicals, and anything else she finds in the pursuit of pleasure. While in London, Cecily has learned some very inappropriate behavior, such as kissing and encouraging the Rakes.

The two sisters could not be more different than day and night. Indeed, Marianne sees herself as the moon to Cecily’s sun. As a child, Marianne felt she could never compete against her sister, so she changed her goals and desires in life so as to not be in competition with her sister.

On a day that is filled with what-might-have-been, Marianne receives a letter from Cecily letting her know that both of them have been invited to stay at Edenbrooke. Lady Caroline has invited them as they are both daughters of her “dearest friend”. This brightens Marianne’s day -- a chance to get out of Bath and back to the country.

With her Grandmother’s blessing, Marianne spends the next two weeks getting ready to go to Edenbrooke for the summer. Grandmother imposes a stipulation that she needs to learn to be an elegant young lady. This is something that Marianne has a hard time being, as she still likes to twill and be outdoors; and according to Marianne embroidery is boring, along with all other ladylike pursuits.

On the way to Edenbrooke, they are held up by a Highway Man and end up in a precarious situation. The Coachman, James, has been shot and there is only Marianne and her maid, Betsy, to get James the help that he needs. While Marianne is doing what must be done, she meets the most unimaginably rude gentleman at an inn.

As the summer advances, Marianne becomes friends with the rude gentleman, Phillip. Their friendship is a treasure for Marianne and also a source of confusion. While at Edenbrooke, Marianne learns that the social life is far from what she wants or even understands. Her feelings for Phillip and her sister war against one another, as she struggles to find balance. When Marianne accepts the invitation to stay at Edenbrooke, she doesn’t know the romance and adventure she is agreeing to.

This is a fantastic read. In the introduction by the Shadow Mountain staff you'll find a great teaser. This is the debut book for Julianne Donaldson and what a debut it is. While it is a romance, there is absolutely nothing in here that I would not want my daughters to read. This is a G rated romance story -- as it says on the cover, "A Proper Romance." I was thrilled to read and add this book to our family library. Now I have only one question…when is her next book coming out?
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