Award-winning author pens epic multi-generational story
about the cost of living authentically
Every family has secrets they’d prefer to stay hidden, but where is the line between protecting the ones you love and simple self-preservation? The theme of Melanie Dobson’s sweeping new novel, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor (Howard Books/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 9781476746142/$14.99) is how the choices of a few can impact generations.
In Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor we meet young Libby Doyle, a free spirit who spends much of her time dancing with the butterflies in Ladenbrooke’s gardens. Even though she struggles socially, Libby is enchanted by the beauty of the butterflies.
Libby has captivated the heart of Oliver Croft, the young heir of Ladenbrooke Manor. When Oliver’s body is found drowned in the River Coln, authorities search for answers but find none. Soon after, Libby vanishes, and her parents, Walter and Maggie Doyle, wonder what happened between their daughter and the boy who lived next door.
If Libby were born today rather than in the 1950s, she would fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Dobson’s reasons for including this element were personal. “My oldest daughter has sensory processing issues, and we have friends with children on the spectrum. These children often struggle with relationships but can also be incredibly bright people, such as Libby, who excel at art or science or whatever talents God has given them. In this story I wanted to celebrate these kids and encourage moms who might feel hopeless and alone.”
Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor slips back and forth between the 1950s and a contemporary story where we meet Heather, the Doyles’ daughter. She returns to her family’s cottage to sort through her parents’ belongings, where she uncovers a string of shocking secrets that leave her wondering if anything her mother said about her childhood was true. “Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated,” Dobson concedes. “I love when women of different generations are honest with one another about their weaknesses and offer each other grace, just as Christ gave freely to each of us.”
As Heather sorts through the belongings left behind in the cottage, trying to separate truth from deceit, she has an uncomfortable reunion with her first love. Together, they unravel a mystery that will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.
Award-winning author Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery to reveal how the Doyle and Croft families are entwined. Set in a charming world of thatched cottages and lush English gardens, this mystery highlights how God’s light cuts through the shadows of life, bringing transformation and restoration and creating beauty from the ashes of our lives.
“Dobson handles sensitive issues with tact, careful to avoid too much detail but remaining honest. Mysteries are solved, truths revealed, and loves rekindled in a book sure to draw new fans to Dobson’s already large base.”
~ Publishers Weekly
“How far do patterns of behavior echo through generations? Are they passed down through a family’s DNA — or through choices subtly modeled by one parent after another? ‘Armchair psychologists’ will love how Dobson tackles these intriguing questions in this past-meets-present page-turner, and Anglophiles will find the manor, cottage and butterfly garden settings irresistible. Perfect with a pot of English tea!”
~ Christian Book Distributors
“Mystery, intrigue and grace . . . these are the hallmarks of Dobson's time-split novels. Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is meticulously researched amid England’s lovely Cotswolds. Beautifully written by this master storyteller and not to be missed.”
~ Cathy Gohlke, Christy Award-winning author of Secrets She Kept and Saving Amelie
"Dobson’s latest is a splendid combination of the past and the present, skillfully woven together with an interesting mystery. The fascinating British setting, exploration of family secrets and hopeful ending create an engaging reading experience."
~ RT Book Reviews
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of 14 historical romance, suspense and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010.
Dobson received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She worked in publicity and journalism for more than 15 years, including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel. Prior to launching her own public relations company in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family.
Dobson and her husband, Jon, enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest with their two daughters. When she isn't writing or playing with her family, Dobson enjoys exploring ghost towns, line dancing and reading historical fiction.