Uplifting Diversion - Book Review


Christian author, Michelle Griep, has written the beginning book of a new yearly Christmas series called "Once Upon A Dickens Christmas." Her first book, Twelve Days at Bleakly Manor, is a good read and only 182 pages. It is set in the Victorian Era--1850--a time that appeals to so many of us.

Seven guests receive a mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, Bleakly Manor. Whichever guest is still remaining at the end of twelve days will receive what is promised them in the invitation. Each guest is struggling in some manner in life and this makes for an interesting, sometimes quirky, interaction of the characters. The book is one of mystery, romance, danger, and second chances. 

The two main characters in the book are Clara Chapman and Ben Lane who were to have been married nine months earlier. On their wedding day, Clara was left at the altar to endure the shame and whispered comments of the guests. One week later, Clara's family wealth and business were stolen and she now believes Ben is responsible.

Ben, who had been on his way to the church and looking forward to his wedding day, never arrived. Their love was stolen from each of them, but why? These past nine months Clara has been living in poverty with her aunt, who took her in, and Ben was imprisoned unjustly. Each of them arrives at the manor unaware the other has also received an invitation and a promise.

Every day at the manor brings new challenges and dangers to the guests. There is no master of the house, yet nothing happens at the manor that is not well thought out and planned--a mystery for the guests that only leaves them with questions and mixed responses. Ben and Clara's faith shines through as it guides their behavior, their actions, and their words. At one point of the story, Ben responds to Clara's questions with the statement:

"Sometimes all we have are questions. But there's really only one that matters. Is God in control or is He not?"

Isn't that a question for each one of us this day? Do we have faith that God is in control even when life doesn't make sense...when it brings suffering and pain...when it doesn't seem right or fair?

If you are ready for a break in the midst of your Christmas shopping, wrapping, baking, and cleaning, this book is worth the reading. I think it is one you would choose to read even a second time.

by Pat Tingwall