What American teen wouldn’t envy Imogen Rockford, a 17-year old living in New York City’s uber-trendy Tribeca district, who has been summoned back to her native England to be the next Duchess of Wickersham? Her cousin, Lucia, has died and so has her grandfather, so she’s now the owner of Rockford Manor, a sprawling Oxfordshire estate of nearly 200 rooms, with beautiful gardens and a maze that had attracted tourists for many years.
One young women faced with this situation is Imogen herself. Rockford Manor, the summer home of her family for centuries, is the scene of the death by fire of her parents seven years before. Alexandra Monir provides young adult readers — and older ones, too — with this scenario in “Suspicion” (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, 304 pages, $17.99, also available in a Kindle edition for $9.78).
Imogen, despite her own fears and reservations about the wisdom of returning to England by her guardians, the Marinos, friends of her late parents, decides to returns to Rockford Manor as the new duchess. It’s not far from Oxford University and Imogen plans to take courses there. Carole and Keith Marino love her like a daughter and she’s built an equally loving relationship with their daughter Zoey, as well as a friendship with a schoolmate named Lauren.
Arriving in England, Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself, who has powers that call to mind a previous duchess, and Sebastian Stanhope, the boy she never stopped loving. Sebastian had a close relationship with Lucia, who has died in an apparent accident near the maze. Complicating elements include a coldness from the housekeeper, the mysterious Mrs. Mulgrave, and her daughter Maisie, who are both devoted to the memory of Lucia.
If all this sounds familiar, Monir explains in an author’s note beginning on page 290 that she was inspired to write “Suspicion” by her love for the psychological novels of Daphne Du Maurier, especially the 1938 novel “Rebecca” which was filmed in 1940 by Alfred Hitchcock. Monir was also inspired by the success of the TV series “Downton Abbey.”
I also found similarities to a novel I very recently read and reviewed, “Sweet Damage” by Rebecca James, set in Sydney, Australia. For my review: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/102059.
As I’ve opined in the past, anything that will get young people to read is a good thing. I think “Suspicion” will do just that. This is a real page-turner, with characters that are fully realized and with the kind of suspense and mystery that will appeal to readers of all ages. Kudos to you, Alexandra Monir!
About the Author
Alexandra Monir is an author and recording artist in her twenties. Suspicion is her third novel published by Random House. Her debut was the popular time-travel romance, Timeless, followed by the 2013 sequel, Timekeeper. Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is at work on her next novel, while also blogging for The Huffington Post and composing an original musical. Her music can be found on iTunes, and you can visit her website at http://www.alexandramonir.com. Follow Alexandra @TimelessAlex.