Friday, February 20, 2015

The English Manor Behind The Secret of Pembooke Park, by Julie Klassen (Guest Blog and Giveaway Details!)

Note from Laura:  I am honored today to have a guest blog from author Julie Klassen on Laura's Reviews.  I'm currently reading The Secret of Pembrooke Park and am enjoying it vastly.  I know that readers of my blog that enjoy historical fiction, regency, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and/or suspense will love this book as well.  Look for my review which will be posted on March 2nd.  Thank-you Julie Klassen and Laurel Ann Nattress for allowing me to be a part of this Blog Tour and to Julie Klassen for writing this great guest post and wonderful novel! 

Pembrooke Park is a fictional estate inspired by Great Chalfield Manor in Wiltshire, England, a 15th-century country house surrounded by extensive gardens and a moat. For many months, I kept photos of the manor and the adjacent church on my bulletin board and grew quite attached to the place as I wrote The Secret of Pembrooke Park. While the book was being edited, I had the privilege of traveling to England for my 3rd time. (I’ve gotten 10+ books from those 3 trips, so I think that’s a pretty good return on investment.)

One of the top to-dos on our packed itinerary was visiting Great Chalfield manor in person. I had exchanged a few emails with the owner (the estate is managed by the national trust, but the family still lives in one wing). She was kind and polite in her replies, but informed us that they didn’t allow visitors to reserve places on their tours in advance. So,


when we picked up our rental car at Heathrow, we drove faster than might have been wise for someone driving on the other side of the road for the first time in her life. But, thankfully, we arrived at the rural estate with more than an hour to spare before the last tour of the day.

When we reached the gate, however, we were told by the man and woman working at the entrance that all the tours were sold out for the day. Imagine my disappointment! The man resolutely explained that some of the rooms were quite small and they had to limit numbers for safety reasons. I tried to remain stoic, and asked if they could direct me to the owner, as I would at least like to meet her while we were there. The woman at the table said officiously, “Follow me.” I assumed she was going to find the owner as I’d requested. We reached one of the outbuildings where the woman told us to wait. A few minutes later, she came back out, and with a wary look around, quickly pressed something into my hand—two tickets for the 4:00 tour. “I’ve been very naughty,” she said with a secret smile. How my heart soared. We truly did not badger her or bribe her to give us tickets. How grateful we were that day for the kindness of strangers! I thanked her and hugged her, telling her why touring the house was so important to me, and asked if I might give her a book in return. She replied quite adamantly, “By all means. Go and get it!” I happily did so.

So, not only did we get to tour the grounds and lovely gardens, but we were also able to join the tour of the house. A husband and wife team of local volunteer guides took us around, entertaining us with historical anecdotes and pointing out fascinating architectural details that will no doubt make their way into future novels. We also learned Great Chalfield is often used as a film location (e.g. BBC’s Wolf Hall) and how lovely it is with its great hall, oriel windows, and topiary houses.
After the tour, we attended Evensong in the small church on the manor grounds. I had hoped and planned to do this for weeks leading up to our trip, because the church (and my fictional clergyman) play an important role in The Secret of Pembooke Park. What a pleasure to meet the rector in person, as well as his small but friendly congregation. I don’t remember when I have enjoyed a church service more.

One of the other places I wanted to visit while I was in England was Chastleton House in Oxfordshire, to see its historic secret room. Secret rooms, passages, and hiding places are not all that uncommon in ancient manor houses. They came in handy over the centuries when you found yourself on the wrong side of a monarch and wished to keep your head. Or if you, say, needed to hide a priest during the reign of Elizabeth I. It was a delight to see a real secret room in person, and to better imagine the one in The Secret of Pembrooke Park.

If you’d like to see a few more photos of Chastleton’s secret room or Great Chalfield Manor, you may want to visit my web site (julieklassen.com), the National Trust site, or watch this video of my visit: http://buff.ly/16AvHHF

Either way, I hope you will enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed researching it.
What about you? Have you been to England? If not, is it on your wish list?

BOOK DESCRIPTION:
In the spring of 1818, twenty-four-year-old Abigail Foster fears she is destined to become a spinster. Her family’s finances are in ruins and the one young man she truly esteems has fallen for another woman — her younger, prettier sister Louisa.

Forced to retrench after the bank failure of Austen, Gray & Vincent, the Foster family optimistically pool their resources for another London Season for her sister in hopes of an advantageous alliance. While searching for more affordable lodgings, a surprising offer is presented: the use of a country manor house in Berkshire abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to the imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left, the tight-lipped locals offering only rumors of a secret room, hidden treasure and a murder in its mysterious past.
Eager to restore her family fortune, Abigail, with the help of the handsome local curate William Chapman and his sister Leah, begins her search into the heavily veiled past aided by unsigned journal pages from a previous resident and her own spirited determination. As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

EARLY PRAISE:
“Jane Austen meets Victoria Holt in Christy Award–winning Klassen’s latest deliciously spooky and sweetly romantic historical.” — Booklist

“Regency romance with awesome castles, secrets, hidden rooms and, of course, romance . . . . Julie Klassen has hit this one out of the ballpark.” — Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick

“If you are looking for a book which combines the enticing elements of a Gothic with the mannerly charm of a Regency, look no further, because this lovely Inspirational is just your cup of tea.” — Heroes and Heartbreakers

“While there are plenty of Regency authors out there, the lovely Julie Klassen is by far one of the top and a must read for fans of Austen/Brontë style and prose. Klassen’s latest, The Secret of Pembrooke Park has a touch of both – the mystery of Brontë and the fun of Austen.”— Books and Beverages

“The Secret of Pembrooke Park is perfectly packaged with several threads of the gothic suspense, Regency romance and inspirational themes while presenting a well plotted story with intriguing characters in an amazing setting.” — Burton Book Review

AUTHOR BIO:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about Julie and her books at her website, follower her on Twitter, and visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.

THE SECRET OF PEMBROOKE PARK BLOG TOUR BLURB:
Award winning historical romance author Julie Klassen tours the blogosphere February 16 through March 2 to share her latest release, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Twenty five popular book bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, book reviews and excerpts of this acclaimed gothic Regency romance novel. A fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of all of Ms. Klassen’s eight books and other Jane Austen-themed items, is open to those who join the festivities.

THE SECRET OF PEMBROOK PARK BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE: I am having troubles posting the entire list, so check out the entire blog tour schedule on Austenprose at:  http://austenprose.com/2015/02/15/the-secret-of-pembrooke-park-blog-tour/

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:





In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary's Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, The Dancing Master, and The Secret of Pembrooke Park, one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007) and a Jane Austen Action Figure.

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015.

 Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Good luck to all!

46 comments:

  1. Oh I LOVE this story!!!! I really needed the smile it brought to my heart today! :) What a cool lady to sneak you some tickets!

    ~Amada (pronounced: a.m.a.th.a)

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  2. Oh, Julie, England is definitely on my wish list! Thanks for the insight into your trip. I'm so glad that woman was naughty that day. What a treat for you!

    Blessings,
    Andrea
    Proofreader/Editor/Writer
    andrearenee2004@yahoo.com
    writingtoinspire.blogspot.com

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  3. I loved this book. It makes me want to step back into the era, or at least tour England!

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  4. The pictures of the manor helps to bring the book to life and gives you an idea of where Abigail is living.
    ~Amanda

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  5. Somehow I always seem to flip-flop between Austen's books and the movies. Watching the movie makes me want to read the book and then finishing the book makes me want to watch the movie for a recap :) endless cycle

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  6. Thanks so much for hosting me here, Laura. Lovely blog! I shared a link on my FB page: Author Julie Klassen.

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  7. Lovely post! I have been to England for a university trip, so was limited in my itinerary. However, it is a beautiful place and I would love to go back someday.

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  8. How thrilling!! I would love to visit places like that someday, but until then, I suppose I could visit them through the pages of your books, Julie. Thank you for hosting, Laura! You have such a wonderful blog. :) ~ Blessings, Juli
    emeraldelena@hotmail.com

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  9. This looks like it would be a great addition to our church library. librarybooks at religious dot com

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  10. I just love all of Julie Klassen's books! I can't wait to read this one!

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  11. So excited for the release of THE SECRET OF PEMBROOKE PARK! :)

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  12. This sounds like such an awesome read!

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  13. Julie Klassen is one of my favorite authors!

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  14. What fun to read about the author's travels and research! I'm very excited to read this book!

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  15. I would love to see historic buildings like this - totally on my list one day! Loved the book :)

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  16. OMGoodess. That sounds so fun. You know that you can actually rent the house used in the Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility for vacations!!!! Just imagine...

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  17. How fun to read Julie's story of her visit to Great Chalfield Manor. I'm glad she was able to tour the manor. I'm looking forward to reading The Secret of Pembrooke Park.

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  18. England's fun

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  19. I'm adding Chalfield Manor to my bucket list! I loved the video you made showing your pictures from your trip Julie!

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  20. Julie, I loved reading the story of how you got the tickets. Thanks for this great post!

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  21. What a lovely, lovely post and giveaway! The Jane Austen action figure is a wonderful little extra. Laura, thank you for hosting this fantastic giveaway. :)

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  22. I just have to say that a Jane Austen action figure would be amazing. I didn't even know they made those! I love Jane Austen so much, and I really enjoy reading books that are inspired by her novels. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  23. I just have to say that a Jane Austen action figure would be amazing. I didn't even know they made those! I love Jane Austen so much, and I really enjoy reading books that are inspired by her novels. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  24. England is one of my dream places to visit and your books just make me want to go even more!! :)

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  25. I’m so excited about the blog tour! Julie Klassen is one of my all-time favorites!

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  26. what a fantastic giveaway!!
    thank you!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

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  27. Great post. Thanks for being a part of this book tour. Julie is an amazing author.

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  28. Someday I would love to tour houses like the one featured in this book! Or maybe even live in one??? Wishful thinking I know lol :)

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  29. I loved reading about your trip to England to research your book! Neat that the lady snuck you tickets to the 4pm tour!! I bet that was one neat place to tour & it gave you great ideas for future books too. I'm a huge fan of yours so this blog tour has been lots of fun. I've gotten to know a bit more about you and some great reviews on "The Secret of Pembooke Park" Thank you for the chance to win a great prize package! Blessings Julie

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  30. Wow, I'd love to see manor houses like this. It's great to have the ability to go see these things and do research in this way. I've never been to the u.k. I sure hope to some day. I'd love to read "pembrooke". Thrilled to see you are currently reading it.

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  31. Loving the story. Love learning about how this book came about. This is giving me ideas for how to research and write my own novel. Thanks.

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  32. I would love to go to England! I love novels with this setting.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

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  33. I haven't been to England but it'd be a fun place to visit.

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  34. Oh I love all of Julie's books! Can't wait to read this one!!
    Dezi A
    sethdezAThotmailDOTcom

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  35. i would love to read this book ty for this chance

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  36. I love Julie's books and really want to read this latest one too :)

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  37. lovely post. and I love this book cover

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  38. I love Julie Klassen's books and look forward to reading this one! :)

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  39. Always a fan of Julie's books - can't wait to read it! truckredford(at)gmail(dot)com

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  40. I'd love to win this! Julie is a GREAT author!

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