Book Review: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series

September 24, 2012 § 4 Comments

Some months ago a I saw quaint and delightful looking book on the library bookshelf in the children’s section. The cover’s colors were muted, the illustration was detailed and the artwork had a whimsical quality permeating through every line and expression. Intrigued, I walked over and picked it up. I giggled; the title did not disappoint: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling. Obviously, I took it home for some after hours reading.

Fans of Romantic literature will be at once surprised and delighted; this book is a cross between a young mischievous Jane Austen and a playful Charlotte Bronte.

The book is written by Maryrose Wood, an award-winning author, play-writer, actor, director and comedienne who “was not raised by wolves.” The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is her first series in for middle-grade students, though I assure you that they are not the only ones who need to read them. As I mentioned, those familiar with Austen and the Bonte’s (especially Jane Eyre) will adore this series.

The protagonist is how a young Jane Eyre would have been as a young girl if she’d had a happy childhood. Her name is Miss Penelope Lumley, and she is a fifteen-year old governess from the famed Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. As the academy’s top graduate ready to take on the world, she has been hired as a governess by Lord and Lady Ashton of Ashton Place for three orphans found by Lord Ashton during a hunting expedition in his very in the woods on his ginormous (yes, I wrote ginormous) grounds. The children, had thus far, been brought up by wolves! Picture the setting: Victorian England, a very old and very distinguished mansion located next to some very old woods, a plucky teacher and three howling and gnawing children. Through in Longfellow poems, Latin lessons, advanced mathematics, pithy (but apt) proverbs and a mystery shrouding the children’s origins, and you have an enchanting detective novel.

And let us not forget the beautiful and charming illustrations by Jon Klassen! Just look at the image!

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