Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I was in the mood for a quick read and as such picked up the second book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood.  What did I think?  I'll tell you, but first as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Ms. Penelope Lumley has just received a letter from her beloved former headmistress Miss Mortimer inviting her to London.  Ms. Lumley approaches the flighty and shallow Lady Constance Ashton for permission, when the Lady decides the whole household should spend a season in London.  When Ms. Lumley tells Miss Mortimer she is able to come, Miss Mortimer sends her a very unusual guidebook with odd illustrations and not so helpful hints.  The three children (who only occasionally howl at the moon) and their governess arrive in London and get promptly lost.  They soon meed up with a delightful young man by the name of Simon who helps them find their way and a mysterious Gypsy who tells them that the Hunt is On.  Ms. Lumley settles her charges into their nursery while the chattering Lady Ashton anticipates all the social events she will be invited too.  Alas the next day the only mail is for Ms. Lumley, which does not make the Lady happy at all.  Ms. Lumley goes to see Ms. Mortimer and she is warned that somebody may be out to do harm to the three children and that she needs to keep her own hair dyed...presumably to keep her mysterious resemblance to the children at a minimum.  She is also advised by her former headmistress to not delve into the mysteries of her own parents too closely.  Ms. Lumley heads home to find the children missing and has a bit of a
panic after her unsettling talk with Miss Mortimer.  Ms. Lumley finds her charges safe and sound with Simon and Judge Quinzy, one of the nasty men at the disastrous holiday party from the last book.  The children had been to the zoo, and to the delight of Ms. Lumley had mostly behaved themselves. Lord and Lady Ashton are to go to the opening of a new play about pirates (with the Lady Ashton getting together the most unusual dress), but Lord Ashton has to bow out at the last moment due to an illness that seems to make him scratch and howl.  The children and their governess go to the play which ends with the children on stage chasing a parrot.  They in turn are then chased by the pirate actors for some unknown reason.  They end up in the hidden gallary that Ms. Lumley had read about in her guidebook and find a most unusual picture of Agatha Swanburne, the founder of the school Ms. Lumley was left at by her parents.  They all make it back home eventually and Lady Ashton thoroughly embarrassed about the scathing reviews her dress received decides they should all head home.  Ms. Lumley finally puts two and two together and discovers that the full moon and Lord Ashtons mysterious illness coincide and that must account for the howling she heard in the last book.  Miss Mortimer sends her a letter letting her know that the guidebook she sent Miss Lumley was not a guidbook at all, but a secret post card collection of sorts from her parents.  All of this sums up to this, there is an unknown curse on the three "wolf-children" going back before they were born, Lord Ashton has a mysterious illness connected to the full moon and howling, Ms. Lumley does have parents and hair that matches the three children which she must keep hidden, and there is a bunch of stuff that is somehow connected that we will hopefully learn soon.
Ok so that was longer then expected, especially for such a short book, but there you have it.  My thoughts on this book are varied.  I again LOVED the children and their mix of wildness and extreme intelligence.  I enjoy the love they have for their governess and how willing they are to do whatever it is she asks.  Ms. Lumley remains a resourceful, optimistic young woman who is able to keep her head and adapt to most situations.  I appreciated the authors use of words, and her way of defining them in a most entertaining matter before applying them to the case at hand.  I imagine if I were a younger reader I would be glad of those definitions.  I am not enjoying the long dragged out mystery of the children and Ms. Lumely.  I think I would not mind it as much if their was a decent plot for each book, but it seems the "plot" is just more of the mystery.  I am hoping that at the end of the series I can look at it as a whole and find a good story.  In the meantime I will continue to enjoy the characters, which to me is the strength of the whole series, and hope to get some answers soon.  I give this book 6 out of 10 eye patches and will eventually get to the next book.
What do you think of drawn out mysteries?  How amusing do you find precocious children? What is your family curse?

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