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Friday, May 7, 2010

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, written by Maryrose Wood. Harper, 2010. $20.99 ages 8 and up

This was such a fun book to read and Penelope Lumley is a lovely, generous character to get to know. She has just graduated from Swanburne, where she gained the intelligence and tenacity to serve her well. She loves to refer to the many wise teachings of the founder of the academy and uses them to help her through the ups and downs of daily life. We meet her as she makes the trip to a job at Ashton Place. The family is looking for a governess and Penny comes highly recommended. She has her fingers crossed that the family will like her.

Her meeting with Lady Constance causes some ripples of concern. She is asked few questions and given little information. What she does discover comes when she asks her own questions of her potential employer. Surprise results when she finally meets the children, who are living in the barn. They are filthy, wrapped in blankets and howl rather than talk. In fact, they have little language and their antics are more animal-like than human. Upon meeting Lord Ashton Penny discovers that he has found the children while on a hunt in the forest. They apparently have been raised by wolves. Rather than send them away, he has decided to keep them and find someone to care for them; hence, Penny's arrival.

Of course Penny is hired and she immediately sets about bringing order and new learning to the three unruly children. Using poetry, Latin and guidance in manners she is sure they will change for the better each day. They are left to their own devices until Lady Constance decides that they must be 'brought up to code' for the coming Christmas celebration. This will be their coming out and they will be expected to act with propriety, or Penny will be out of a job. Her tireless work to bring order and refinement is thwarted by someone who does not seem to want the children to improve. I wonder???

If this is the beginning of a new series, please put me on the list for the next installment. I found it to be engaging, humorous, fast-paced and intelligent. I loved the inclusion of Agatha Swanburne's wise sayings that so helped Penny to deal with this new life. We would do well to remember many of them ourselves.

While I often complain about the plethora of series starters that land in my mailbox, some books are meant to be the introduction to a surprising group of characters whose adventures will stretch beyond the pages of just one book. When they are as good as this one, they deserve another look...I'm waiting!

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