The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery
by Maryrose Wood
Review by Harriet Klausner
Balzer + Bray Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061791123
Date: 01 March 2011 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Fifteen year old Miss Penelope Lumley is governess to the cubs (orphaned children). Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia are more civilized now though they still have a tendency to yip, nip, and howl at the moon, especially a full one. Mostly that is because they were found more as beasts in the Ashton Place forests. During the renovation of Ashton Place Lady Constance discusses the uprooting of the household to go to London.
At a luncheon with her former teacher Miss Charlotte Mortimer, Penelope is told to start using her hair poultice so it does not look like the color of the wild children aka Incorrigibles. A mysterious one of a kind guide is given to her so that she can get around easier, but it is useless because it contains few directions.
Lord Frederic Ashton's friend Judge Quincy takes an interest in the child, but Penelope learns there is no such person sitting on the bench. On the night the Ashtons attend the theater, Lord Feedback starts scratching, yipping, and howling. He leaves his wife at the theater. Penelope and the Incorrigible children sitting separately from Lady Constance are enthralled by the pirate show until the cubs go on stage to join the pirates. At the British Museum one of the exhibits focuses on Penelope's Incorrigibles and their governess.
This amusing Victorian children's tale is a sort of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book meets Jill Wheeler's Lemony Snicket with a teenage Nanny McPhee (by Christiana Brand) helping the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place adapt from life in the woods to that of society. The support cast is purposely stereotyped in order to place emphasis on a particular trait so that the young reader will question what civilized means and who is the civilized – the barbaric children of the woods who prefer to eat with their hands or the aristocrats of the manor who only eat with utensils. For instance Lady Constance is a superego hedonist (unlike the star of the movie of the same name) whose only concern regarding the trio is the impact on her lifestyle, which is why she made them barn rats.
The children share similar wolfish traits but also contain different personalities. They are the obvious stars who shine throughout the tale, but it is patient Penelope, a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, whose pragmatic approach to being the wild trio's governess keeps the engaging story line focused. Her past and that of the children are explored in depth as clues abound in the second of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place thriller. With terrific illustrations throughout the novel adding to a well written fun plot, tweeners will enjoy howling and prowling nineteenth century London with this pack.