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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place are no ordinary children, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess, and mysteries abound in this first volume in a new series for ages 9+.

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

272 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2009

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About the author

Maryrose Wood

25 books960 followers
Sending big hugs and loveawoo to all.

I'm so pleased to introduce you to my new book: Alice's Farm, A Rabbit’s Tale. In stores on September 1st; available for preorder now.

Alice is an eastern cottontail. Genus sylvagia, species floridanus. About three pounds full grown, if she makes it that far.

Life at the bottom of the food chain is no picnic! But that doesn’t worry Alice much. She's too busy doing all she can to save her beautiful farmland home—not just for herself, but for all the creatures of the valley between the hills.

Yup, all of ’em! Even that new family of farmers who just moved into the big red
house across the meadow. They don’t know much about farming, being from
the city. They mean well. But they’re easy pickins for the local apex predator (he's a real estate developer, in case you couldn't tell).

But Alice has a plan to help.

Rabbits helping farmers? That’s awfully unusual, isn’t it? Well, you're right
about that, young’un!

Let’s put it this way: Alice is no ordinary rabbit.

With loveawoo,

p.s. — If you could use a little extra pluck and optimism right now, please help yourself to THE SWANBURNE ACADEMY GUIDE TO SHELTERING IN PLACE.

You can download it right here:


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,072 reviews
Profile Image for Melki.
5,793 reviews2,341 followers
January 3, 2017
An innocent young lady arriving at a mysterious mansion to look after some wealthy person's children is not exactly a new theme, but I'm quite certain it's never been done this way before. Imagine Lemony Snicket and Victoria Holt had a doomed, clandestine encounter on a dark, forbidding moor somewhere . . . and this book was their secret shame, the bastard love-child of that tear-stained coupling.


Anyway, our dear Miss Lumley, bright eyed and bushy tailed, is eager to mold the minds of her young charges, filling their craniums with poetry and Latin phrases, only to find her would-be pupils are three children who behave as though they were raised by wolves . . . because they were. Taken in by a spoiled rich man who sees them as some sort of novelty act to impress his friends, they are kept in the barn by the new lady of the house. But, never fear, Miss Lumley is up to the challenge, and soon has those feral tykes towing the line and reciting Longfellow, albeit Longfellow with occasional howling. And then there's the one problem that the children share with all canines . . .


But now, the indomitable Miss Lumley faces her biggest challenge yet - the children must dance the schottische at the Christmas ball!

There's so, SO much to love in this book! I was wild about character names like Baron Hoover and the Earl of Maytag, and Mr. Alpo, the dreaded horse retirer, and the how the children call Miss Lumley "Lumawoo." And then there're the delightfully comical illustrations by Jon Klassen:

The boys try on pants for the first time.

The author presents us with several delicious mysteries, none of which are solved in this volume. Who are the children's real parents? What is hidden behind the attic wall? Where was Lord Ashton when he should have been at the party? What's the deal with Old Timothy? And, will the children ever learn to spell their names and stop adding "awoo" to the ends of words?

These and other quandaries will be answered, one assumes, in later volumes. I know, I know, at this point in my life the last thing I need or want is to get involved in another series, but for this little gem, I'll make an exception.
Profile Image for Shana.
81 reviews110 followers
February 20, 2011
If you see the date I finished this book, you may (or may not, who can say?) be surprised to know that I started it on July 22nd and only read on public transportation and a bit while walking down 7th Ave. in Manhattan on my way to work this morning. (That's dangerous, though, and I wouldn't recommend it even if you are rather experienced at reading and walking.)

I bought the book on a whim. I liked that it had the word "incorrigible" on the cover, and the illustration appealed to me. I'm in arrears when it comes to gifts for my niece, who is a wicked smart 9-year-old, and after reading a few pages of it, I decided she'd like it. I also decided I liked it for her because it had lots of big, useful words that she could stand to have as a part of her vocabulary and because, even in the first bit, I could see that it was going to be literary.

Well, I had some time to kill at the register of the fabulous McNally Jackson Bookstore while the clerk helped a few customers before wrapping another gift I'd bought (for free!), and so I went on past the first few pages. I was utterly hooked.

The novel had a Jane-Eyre-only-more-fun air to it, and some ways in, it directly referenced the novel. It also directly referenced Moby Dick and Charles Dickens as well as quoting Longfellow and there's still more to it. The Mysterious Howling is exactly the sort of book I'd have liked to read when I was young and that I enjoyed reading now for a little young-at-heart escape from the everyday ho-hum.

My only complaint against it--and I honestly don't know how anyone could have any other--is that I will have to wait nearly a year for the next installment. This book gave me the pure pleasure of reading that I experienced while diving into Harry Potter, and I think in some ways I may like this even better.
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,750 followers
March 3, 2010
When you're a parent or a librarian or a teacher or a bookseller who reads a lot of children's books, you sometimes wish for fun. Children's books are often by their very nature "fun". But there's fun that's strained and trying to appeal to everyone and then there's fun that appears to be effortless. You read a book, are transported elsewhere, lose track of time, and never want the story to end. It's the kind of fun a person encounters in a book like Book One of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. In The Mysterious Howling you meet a book that's a little like Jane Eyre, a little like Jane Yolen's Children of the Wolf, and a little like nothing at all. Pure pleasure for kids, for adults, for everyone. Treat yourself.

If you were to hire a governess from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, you would find yourself with a young lady of exceptionable talents, knowledge, and intellect. Such is the case when Lord Frederick and Lady Constance hire fifteen-year-old Penelope Lumley to be governess of three children. The catch? Well, they're not your average nippers, these three. Found on the sprawling acreage of Lord Frederick's estate, the children appear to have been raised entirely by wolves. Literally. Their new guardians have dubbed them "The Incorrigibles" and are expecting miracles. Now it is up to Miss Lumley to get them civilized and educated or it's to the orphanage with them and unemployment for her. And there are certainly strange goings on at Ashton Place, that's for certain. Does someone have it in for the children? Where does Lord Frederick constantly disappear to? Is there something nasty lurking in the attic? Fortunately for everyone Miss Lumley is made of sturdy stuff, and it will take more than a mystery or two to keep her from fulfilling her duties to the fullest.

Since the story takes place in the year when Moby Dick first came out, we can place the period of this piece somewhere around the early to mid-1850s. However, this does nothing to prevent author Maryrose Wood from leaping forward and backwards in time in terms of the narration. It is not uncommon for the story to say something along the lines of "nowadays it would make a fine documentary for broadcast on a nature channel on cable television" and then go right back into the past again. The effect is mildly jarring the first time it happens, but as it goes on the reader gets a feel for Wood's style. Books of this nature (which is to say, gothic books for kids) these days have a tendency to be compared to the works of Lemony Snicket. I would argue that there is very little in this book that is similar to Mr. Snicket's works, except perhaps the delightful vocabulary (though Snicket never seriously attempted Latin the way this book does) and the narrator's tendency to become a confidant of the reader.

What is most remarkable is how well constructed the entire endeavor is. Ms. Wood manages to make the whole story fit together like a little puzzle. A Christmas party must occur on the night of the full moon since that is when guests will best be able to see their way. At the same time, perhaps there are other connections to full moons that we should remember. You never really see where the plot is going until it gets there, so predictable this book is not. Best of all are all the characters. Each one is unique, distinct, and memorable. Even the villains, such as they are, are sympathetic in their headstrong ways. And our heroine, Miss Lumley, is the kind of companion you'd readily follow through book after book. Just as the children come to trust her, so do you, the reader.

I suppose one might question whether or not this is the kind of book that actual honest-to-goodness kids will enjoy, as opposed to gothicly inclined adults. After all, the heroine is fifteen and the story is about her occupation. That said, the real stars of the show are The Incorrigibles themselves. You cannot help but fall instantly in love with them the moment you meet them, and I can see many a kid identifying with them. And while the heroine of this story is a woman, I dare say that there will be boys out there who latch on to the whole "raised by wolves" aspect of the story and find it right up their alley as well. Sell this book to kids correctly and you'll find them (forgive me, but I managed to keep from saying it for this long) howling for more.

Illustrator Jon Klassen is to be credited for providing the loveliest little illustrations to the story. Where some illustrators might have provided images that would make the book appear older, or more teen, Klassen's pictures actually give the story a younger feel. There is much that is adorable about this tale, and I think the artist captures that perfectly. While a reader is being charmed by the fact that the kids call Miss Lumley "Lumawoo", Klassen draws the children as bright, pert, and friendly. They often complement or clarify the action better than the book would alone. Even the author herself once said that the image of the children reenacting Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus" (note that Cassiopeia has lashed herself to a potted fern) might be her own personal favorite image in the book.

Well, there's nothing for it but to love it, really. If I do have a beef with it, it may have something to do with the fact that you never really learn the answer to any of the mysteries that come up by the end of this story. Readers will be panting to know more (no pun intended) and then find that they have to wait to read the next book in the series before anything is resolved. Fortunately, they'll scramble to read that next book with very little prodding. For some kids, this will act as a follow-up to Lemony Snicket. For others, an intro to Jane Eyre. And for most, this will be the kind of story you read over and over again, just to taste the language and meet the characters again. Just the loveliest little book. One hopes we'll be seeing many more of its kind very soon indeed.

For ages 9-12.
Profile Image for Charlyn.
608 reviews3 followers
June 2, 2012
Hmmmm, take the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Then make Anne Sullivan a fifteen-year-old first-time nanny from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and make Helen Keller three children raised by wolves and found by a wealthy landowner. Then set it in Victorian England and add large punches of Lemony Snicket-y humor and you've got a fair idea of this book. Oh, yes, make it a series, with the first one ending leaving the reader wanting more.

Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia (named by the Ashton gent who found them) are lumped together as the Incorrigibles. Alexander is the oldest; Beowulf is next; and then little Cassiopeia. When Lord Ashton brought them home, his wife, Lady Constance--still quite young herself--is over-whelmed with the responsibility. She hires Miss Penelope Lumley who arrives with little more than her stock of Agatha Swanburne quotes burned into her memory and the desire to teach the children Latin, geometry, and all the other subjects young children of that time period might need to study. Unfortunately, it is more necessary for Miss Lumley to teach the youngsters not to bay at the moon and chase wild animals and to become their protector as well as their teacher.

This first book in the series introduces the cast of characters and brings the children to their introduction to society at a Christmas party. Where they came from is one of several mysteries not answered in this volume. Who undermines the Christmas party is another. Inquisitive readers with a well-developed sense of humor will want to learn more about Lumawoooo and her three charges.
Profile Image for Paula.
183 reviews4 followers
January 9, 2010
There are some serious problems with this book. I will present them in a list:

1. The sub-title, "The Mysterious Howling." This "mysterious howling" is only mentioned in the last chapter and never revealed. It is a weak attempt at drawing readers into committing to reading the next book in the series.

2. There is absolutely no reason for this book to become a series. There is not enough meat to it. It could have been a good one-off book, if the author had been allowed to address #1 and finish it as a complete tale in one installment. This is the problem with modern YA publishing. HarperCollins shame on you. Stop trying to make money from series that shouldn't be.

3. The intended target audience for this book is middle school (approximately ages 10-12). While there are 3 minor characters who are actual children (the children referenced in the title) the focus of the story is on and the perspective of the story is from that of the 15 year old governess, Ms. Lumley. While by today's standards middle schoolers would be interested in the story of a 15-year-old, this book is set in the 1800's. At that time, a 15 year old would have been considered a full-fledged adult, and this main character certainly reads as an adult. Unlike Mary Poppins, an adult governess who's filled with wacky funny stories, this governess is concerned with very adult themes. Themes that middle-schoolers would have a hard time relating to or even noticing. There just is no reason for children of this age to want to read this.

4. I don't know why it is that authors who write "teacher-type" characters feel the need to have that character preach the author's "wisdom" to the reader through the book. It is condescending, it certainly is not what a good teacher would do in his/her own class room, and it frankly is just poor writing. In a good story the lesson(s) will be inferred by the reader. It would not need to be told directly.

5. Clearly the author has little understanding of the process of education and how children's brains develop. It would be impossible for children raised by wolves, who do not speak English, to be able to not only fully speak and understand English after a mere week but also equally impossible (and laughable to suggest) that they would be able to read, translate and speak Latin (in the context of sentences) within a month's time. I might have been able to overlook this, if the story had been better.

As an adult reading this book I can say that there are some truly good moments in it. This is why I gave it 2 stars. However, either through the fault of the publisher, the editor, or the author they are brief moments that never really develop into much. Had the story been told through the eyes of the children and had it been treated as a complete novel and not an installment, Ms. Wood may have had something here. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,233 reviews398 followers
July 26, 2016
Raised by wolves children find stately home and governess. Wolf tendencies prevail although lovely governess does her best. Stately home owners show themselves and friends in a bad light. Lots of mystery, humour, and lovely names. Lumawoo is wonderful and wise beyond her years. Some philosophy on if it's morally right to kill. The story was quite climactic at the party towards the end but reached no conclusion. I don't feel we have been left on a cliff hanger, more we have started on a huge book that has been cut into pieces to be sold to us in chunks.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,005 followers
August 4, 2010
Totally implausible but endearing story-beginning of a fifteen-year-old orphan (who seems more like 30) employed as governess to three children raised by wolves. Humor and hijinks abound.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,632 followers
September 10, 2014

I had only vaguely heard of this book until this spring, when Maryrose Wood spoke at a conference I attended. She was so lovely I bought this and had it signed for my kids, mostly to sort of high-five her for her great keynote address. But I thought I'd read it myself before passing it on... So wonderful! I don't really like a lot of recent middle grade- shocking, I know! There are too many bickering siblings and idiot parents for my taste. But there was none of that here. Instead it reminded me of Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase, or Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace, which were favorites of mine in grade school.

I loved it so much, I am planning to buy the second one today! I must know more!
Profile Image for Destinee.
1,586 reviews142 followers
October 6, 2010
Another Lemony Snicket-y goody! Its only shortcoming as a book is that it's the first in a series and therefore a big tease. No revelations, just setup. But really funny, smart, enjoyable setup.

It's a fantastic audiobook--I dare say possibly better than reading it because the narrator does some awesome howling. Today I kept hearing "Lumawoo" and "Cassawoof" and "Nutsawoo" in my head. So great!
Profile Image for Franquie.
50 reviews
November 22, 2017
This was such a fun book to listen to (Audible). The story was funny and engaging, and would be enjoyable for both children and adults alike. A thoroughly enjoyable book!
Profile Image for Kirsty.
2,689 reviews177 followers
February 7, 2017
I don't often read children's books nowadays (I hide almost entirely behind the guise of being a sophisticated adult), but I had heard great things about Maryrose Wood's work - namely that her Ashton Place series is much like a cross between Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and my beloved Jane Eyre. It also reminded me quite a bit of Colin Meloy's Wildwood books.

The Mysterious Howling, the first in the Ashton Place series, is well written throughout, and engaging from the very beginning. There is almost a Gothic feel to the novel, and it presents a nice slice of Victoriana to its readers. The characters are realistically drawn, whether young or old. Wood's formula works well, and it is certainly a series which I will be continuing with; after all, it makes for a nice and refreshing break from thesis research!
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,073 reviews372 followers
December 27, 2018
Ahoy there mateys! This was an impulse borrow from a local library. I needed an audiobook to listen to and this was the only one that sounded even slightly good to me in me mood that day. I thought the narrator, Katherine Kellgren was fantastic and she made the book for me. Her voices had me giggling. There is a sequence with a squirrel that was just divine. The story is about a governess who sets up to meet her charges and finds a crazy situation where the children were raised by wolves. I fell in love with both the governess and the three incorrigible children. This is a six book series and I do want to listen to all of the others. This would be a great book to listen to in a long car trip. Arrr!

Side note: Apparently Katherine Kellgren narrated over 300 audiobooks. She passed away in 2018 after a battle with cancer. I am glad there is lots of her work to experience and remember her by. This article lists the top five of which this novel was one. I have been meaning to read the Bloody Jack series. Now that I know it has been narrated by her it is a must-listen to this year. Hell, I need to listen to the whole list. Arrr!
Profile Image for Autumn Beck.
194 reviews21 followers
December 12, 2021
I loved this book! We listened as a family over a couple of road trips. It drew me in and I am excited to read the next book. The narrator did a great job with the voices and sounds of the children.
Profile Image for Morgan.
371 reviews16 followers
June 9, 2013
I really wanted to like this book. The set-up was fun, and the writing is endearing, but when you think of the premise of an overly young Victorian governess bringing children raised by wolves into high society, well, antics ensue, right? Yes. On page 220.

The rest of the book is about a nice schoolmarm that teaches these three students with unbelievable effectiveness whilst they behave themselves. The book is more a catalog of what they learn and how good they are (oops one accidentally opens a door that he shouldn't). It's like Mary Poppins without the magic. Occasionally we are exposed to a distant step-father figure with a "mystery" so telegraphed that I'm surprised the author didn't just state suspicions outright then dismiss them as fantasy. A step-mother figure who, what a surprise, is a jerk, and some other names of people that huff a lot or are jerks.

So, that leaves the relationship between the governess and the children. It almost works except that they have no personality. Of the three kids, only the sister is marginally different because she does "girl" stuff. I dare anyone to find a feature that is present in one of the two boys that identifies him (besides younger/older and what temperature they like their bath). Even the teacher when presented by a situation that showed how they weren't understood on a personal level compared her thoughtful gifts, indicating that she knew them, but really they were more school stuff that was remotely age and sex "appropriate." The kids are ciphers; used only to tell the story, and yet, the story fights tooth and nail (ha!) to be told. Finally at the end of the book there is something of a mystery, but who cares by this point?

It's a shame. It could have been great. I'd say that it seriously needed an editorial work-over, but based on the success of the series, clearly she is doing something right.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,602 reviews2,046 followers
June 1, 2020
At first I felt a little guilty about making this our family readaloud book because it seemed to be something written for me, the adult reader, rather than the kids listening. But after a few chapters I think we were all pretty into it. It's a slow book and usually my kids like things action-packed, but once the Incorrigibles are making regular appearances, they were quite enamored with them. Their tendency to howl in their words makes it a fun readaloud, too. The prose is very classical, it reads more like Austen or Dickens than modern children's fiction, but that's what makes it so fun to read out loud, at least for me.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
350 reviews9 followers
July 20, 2011
I read this in one sitting last night. It was very "Lemony Snickett-y" is the tone and sense of humor. I thought Miss Lumley (also known as Lumawoo) was adorable in her no-nonsense governess position. And the children, so funny, the little wolflings with their wild habits and trusting ways. I will look for the next in this series. I will also recommend them to my nieces (ages 10 and 9) as I believe this is a good series for little girls.
Profile Image for Christine Indorf.
717 reviews116 followers
January 2, 2022
I am in love with this series. Miss Penelope Lumley is in look of a Governess job now that her schooling is at the end. So she goes to Ashton place to become a Governess to 3 children, but what they fail to tell her is that her students are children that think they are wolves. Her job is to get them not be wolves or though she thinks. The children or also know as Incorrigible Children start to learn how to be human, but will Miss Penelope be able to teach them how to be children when a Christmas party is to take place at Ashton Place? This story is so cute. I love Penelope and the children are so precious. From chasing squirrels to helping a dog in need the children learn from Miss Penelope not only their lessons but to love and to be loved. Such a fabulous book. Never to old for a good book, so get out there a buy it, so worth it!!
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,244 reviews
January 13, 2012
This is the thoroughly charming Victorian tribute/spoof tale of Miss Penelope Lumley, fifteen years old and a new graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, and her first job as governess. When she arrives at Ashton Place, she is greeted the a wildly enthusiastic young mistress (recently married) who seems rather too eager to engage Miss Lumley in the position, even going so far as to have her sign a contract. The "mysterious howling" noise Penelope hears gives her only momentary pause, so enthusiastic is she to begin nurturing young minds. Plus, the advertisement had indicated that the applicants must be fond of animals. Penelope, a devout fan of the "Giddy-Yap, Rainbow!" pony stories, just *knows* there will be beautiful ponies for the children to ride at Ashton Place, and she can hardly wait to begin her work. But, things are not quite what they seem...

I came to this story knowing virtually nothing about it, though I have always been intrigued by the title and knew it received generally good reviews. My main reason for reading it when I did is that we had a road trip planned and the audiobook narrator is Katherine Kellgren, whom I adore. So, I knew the audiobook would be an entertaining companion for our trip.

I was beyond pleased, for not only was the book pleasantly written, with lovely description, witty observations, and vibrant characters, but Miss Penelope Lumley is the sort of person I would love to meet and befriend in real life. One of my favorite things is to read about a character that I wish I really knew, and I think Penelope is one swell girl! :-)

It will come as no surprise to those who read the back cover blurb, or even paid some careful attention to the cover with an eye for extrapolation, but I (having done neither) was surprised that the "mysterious howling" was actually the three children of Ashton Place. Lord Frederick found them while he was hunting in the woods one day and brought them back. "Finders keepers" and all that. They were on his land, so they are his, he believes. Though his lovely and high-strung young wife wishes he would simply send the children to the orphanage, Lord Frederick seems to believe they are the sort of novelty that make him stand out to his friends, so he wants to keep them. It falls to Miss Lumley to help the children learn to speak English, stop chasing (and, presumably, eating) squirrels, and learn their manners... not to mention all the academic subjects she is determined to teach them. One element of the story I really appreciated was the respect and concern Penelope showed for all living creatures.

All in all, I was completely engaged in the story though I give it four stars instead of five because I did, on occasion, want more. There didn't seem to be enough of a conflict or story arc for awhile, and the end was barely an ending at all but, rather, a set-up for the sequel. Argh! I was also miffed and intrigued by the inclusion of a possible supernatural element hinted at in the end (interesting idea, though annoying that it just popped up so suddenly at the end) though whether or not the author meant to lead us to believe that or it was simply my own overactive imagination after eight hours in the car remains to be seen in the sequel, which I will inevitably read (or, better yet, listen to. Katherine Kellgren really does a great job here, especially in conveying the howling-Enlgish dialogue of the children. I love when the children call their teacher "Lamarooooo!")
Profile Image for Jamie Dacyczyn.
1,614 reviews89 followers
March 7, 2022
2022 reread: Decided to continue with this series, because it was one of the series Katherine Kellgren was working on before she died. So, gotta re-read the first one. Bumping this up to 3.5 stars.

2018: A cute Victorian era story for middle readers. I can see this series appealing to fans of Bunnicula and the Enola Holmes mysteries.

I read it on audio, and as ever Katherine Kellgren was a treasure.
Profile Image for Stefan Hull.
69 reviews9 followers
August 6, 2020
The whole family was into this. We loved all of the cultural/historical references and Hulls can’t resist silly language.
Profile Image for Joseph Brink.
366 reviews24 followers
November 3, 2021
I had very high expectations for this book. Usually when I have very high expectations for a book the book ends up not meeting those expectations and being disappointed. In this rare case, the book exceeded my expectations, high as they were.

This was such a delightful, quirky book, that felt like just my cup of tea to read! I read it all in only two sittings.

The ending was very intriguing, the characters were loveable and interesting, and it promises to be an excellent series.

I enjoyed the familiar Snicketesque feel of this book, but I was also glad to see that this book was not a Lemony Snicket knock-off at all as the reviews were making me imagine. Actually, this book was refreshingly different from Snicket in both plot and writing-style, but it was still vaguely familiar for a long-time Snicket fan such as myself.

I absolutely loved this book and cannot wait to dive into the sequel!


How could I fail to mention Jon Klassen??? Jon Klassen's role in illustrating this series was what originally drew me into wanting to read these - he is my favorite artist of ALL TIME!!! The cover of this book just blew me away. It is splendorific. I am very sorry for not mentioning it when I first wrote this review. Perhaps the story itself was so good that it distracted me from the art. ;)
Profile Image for Jackie "the Librarian".
870 reviews260 followers
June 26, 2010
In this amusing book, similar in style to the Lemony Snicket "Series of Unfortunate Events" series, but not as dark or arch, 15 year old Penelope Lumley, nervous but determined, is sent from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females to work as a governess (in the style of Jane Eyre). She is hopeful of finding bright young children to fill up with learning and, ideally, ponies. She has a thing for ponies.

The gimmick is, the children, two boys and a girl, need some remedial work first, as they've been raised by wolves. Naturally, they get easily distracted by things like squirrels. Penelope is undaunted, and is fortunately good with animals. She wins them over quickly with just the right look, and soon has them literally eating out of her hand. Treats are useful learning tools for kids as well as wolf pups. I must say, they are quick learners, and amazingly learn enough Latin to impress party guests at Christmas within a month, although they can't seem to talk without adding a little "woooo" to the end of every sentence. It's adorable, but the focus is on Penelope, not the kids, who never become distinct as characters.

No, this isn't a book about character development. It's all mystery mystery mystery - how did the children end up with wolves? What nefarious plans are there for the children, that appear to involve hunting? And the master of the house may have some dark secret, why else would be be away at every full moon?

And Penelope herself is not exactly an orphan. How did she end up at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females? Where are her parents? Why has her hair been kept dyed by the teachers at her old institute?

But as much as I enjoyed all this set up, I wonder who is the intended audience? It's published as juvenile fiction, and the font IS large, and there are pictures sprinkled throughout the short text, but the main character is a 15-year-old girl, modeled (very lightly) after Jane Eyre. I'm not sure elementary school kids will relate, and teens may find it too young-looking to want to pick up.

And the narrative references to things like "stock market bubbles" as an example of irrational exuberance is funny, if you're a librarian or teacher, but will zoom over the heads of all but the nerdiest of kids. I'd be interested in having a kid read this to see what she thought about it all.

I don't know who I'd recommend this to. Kids? Teens? Librarians who love Jane Eyre? I liked it, and I want to read the next one. I say, if it sounds like your cup of tea, give it a try. :)
Profile Image for Britsbookworld.
170 reviews6 followers
February 20, 2019
Wie immer natürlich ohne Spoiler und vielleicht wecke ich ja von dem ein oder anderen hier das Interesse für diese Reihe :) <3

Die Reihe gibt es auch auf Deutsch und heißt: Das Geheimnis von Ashton Place und Teil 1 gefiel mir so gut, dass ich dem Buch 4 Sterne gegeben habe :)

In dem Buch "Das Geheimnis von Ashton Place" geht es um die junge Gouvernante Miss Penelope Lumley, die ihren ersten Job auf dem Anwesen Ashton antreten soll. Bisher ist ihr nicht viel über Lord und Lady Ashton bekannt, nur dass diese wohl drei Kinder haben sollen, um die sie sich von nun an kümmern muss. Nichts leichter als das für Penelope. Schließlich hat sie eine gute Ausbildung genossen und trotz ihres jungen Alters, wird dies wohl nicht all zu schwierig werden....

Doch da hat sie falsch gedacht, die drei Kinder, muss sie bei ihrer Ankunft feststellen leben nämlich gar nicht in dem alten Anwesen, sondern befinden sich in einer Scheune - zum Schutz aller Anwesenden. Denn die Gerüchte besagen, dass Lord Ashton die drei im Wald gefunden hat, dort hausten sie wie Wölfe, können weder sprechen noch benehmen sie sich, wie Kinder, die überhaupt mal eine Erziehung genossen haben. Schmutzig, dreckig sind sie wie wilde Tiere und als Penelope sie das erste Mal erblickt möchte sie lieber ihre Sachen packen und sofort verschwinden...

Ob es ihr gelingt mit den drei Kindern zurecht zu kommen, sie zu erziehen, und was es mit der jungen Lady Ashton auf sich hat und sich Penelope in den Kreisen der gehobenen Gesellschaft zurechtfindet, dies müsst ihr selbst lesen ;)

Meine Meinung:
Dieses Buch war für mich eine wirklich positive Überraschung. Eine wirklich schöne, liebevolle, amüsante Geschichte, die mit Zeichnungen auf einigen Seiten, das Buch noch schöner gemacht hat. Hier handelt es sich eher um ein Kinderbuch, würde ich persönlich sagen, jedoch hatte es für mich etwas altersloses. Jeder kann diese Geschichte lesen und ich hab die drei Wölfe, ehm Kinder :D wirklich in mein Herz geschlossen <3
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,186 reviews345 followers
December 2, 2014
I wasn't quite sure what to expect about this book. Feral children, yes, certainly, but the synopsis makes it sound anything but serious. And I was delighted to discover that it really isn't.

More than anything, I would call this a sort of gentle poke at (and tribute to) Victorian governess stories, with a narrator that felt somewhat Lemony to me. It's enhanced by the deliberately dramatic reading of the narrator on the audiobook, which made the whole thing great fun to listen to. Sure, it's wonderfully inaccurate, but Wood makes absolutely no pretension to accuracy.

But where this book will succeed or fail will depend largely, I think, on how you feel about the main character, young governess Penelope Lumley. The first chapter or so she grated on me a bit, seeming to be too melodramatic for my tastes. Luckily, that turned out to be a minor aspect of her character. I was quite expecting her reaction to meeting her charges and discovering that they're feral children to be disbelief, possibly anger at being tricked into teaching them. I expected there to be a lengthy series of endearing events before she takes the children into her heart, blah blah blah. Luckily, we were spared all that, because Penelope loves animals. I highly suspect that she liked the children all the more for their animalistic traits. It was a pleasant surprise.

One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the sheer quantity of unanswered questions. Where did the children come from? For that matter, where did Penelope come from? I admit, I'm more than just intrigued, and I'll be more than happy to listen to the rest of the audiobooks in the series.
Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
904 reviews323 followers
October 19, 2014
I wanted to like this book more, but I just didn't. The beginning started off very well. Penelope Lumley, a fifteen year old graduate from Swanburne Academy is on her way to, hopefully a new job. Penelope is very nervous, this being her first job interview. When she arrives at Ashton Place, she is disturbed to hear howling and barking. The lady of the house, Lady Constance, hires Miss Lumely before giving any details about the children. We the readers find out in the first chapter that the children were found in the woods and raised by wolves. That, Fredrick Ashton, man of the house found the children and therefore, "finders..keepers".

The story talks about in great length how Miss Lumley teaches her knew charges and how she grows to love them. I became quite bored towards the middle and the ending was not awful but...I just didn't care for it. It seemed cruel. I have read Lemony Snickett and his Unfortunate Events and those books are just better written. The narrator tries to engage the reader through out the book, but it just falls flat. Furthermore the narrator talks about microwaves and other modern devices, which is confusing because I'm assuming the story takes place maybe a century ago. I was confused at parts.

I'm not sure I will be continuing this series. It was not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Alison.
198 reviews38 followers
July 24, 2011
Imagine a cross between Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Jane Eyre, and that would give you an idea of how engrossing and enjoyable the first book in Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series is. Miss Penelope Lumley is 15 years old, and having completed her studies at Agatha Swanburne's Academy for Poor Bright Females, she is summoned to an interview at Ashton Place, the home of Lord and Lady Ashton. She is expecting a rigorous interview, and is instead surprised to find Lady Constance begging her to stay. However, unline the young Browns or Banks, Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia Incorrigible are not naughty; they were discovered in the forests surrounding Ashton Place, apparently raised by wolves and with an unfortunate fascination with squirrels. As many teachers have asked themselves, what does one do with a child who growls in public? Penelope does incredibly well until, at one of the most hilarious Christmas parties I have ever read about, events come to a head and the mystery is at least partially explained; of course, there is a sequel... I recommend this book for confident readers of 9+, and of course their teachers, parents and relatives!
Profile Image for Lata.
3,598 reviews191 followers
April 24, 2019
So much fun. And kind of adorable while being funny and mysterious.
Penelope Lumley, new governess, arrives at Ashton Place and must care for three orphaned children who seem to have been raised by wolves, based on their howling and proclivities. Penelope has her work cut out for her, She is determined that they'll be reading latin, among other things eventually, all while learning good manners and deportment. Using respect, warmth and kindness, Penelope makes great strides forwards with the children, enough so that they're speaking some comprehensible english by Christmas. This is seeminly undone at a Christmas party. And though Penelope doesn't lose her position, as she feared based on the party's results, she is left with many questions as to who deliberately sabotaged the children's control over their behaviour, where did the children come from, who lives in the walls (according to the children), what's up with Lord Ashton and his club friends, and what is his purpose behind adamantly keeping the orphans, when his wife clearly feels differently? I guess I'll find out in more in book two.
Profile Image for Overbooked  ✎.
1,494 reviews
October 10, 2015
I picked this book because I liked its retro drawings, in addition to the cover, the book includes a number of sketches that illustrate events in the story, they bring back memories of my childhood well thumbed) books.

This book target audience is 7-12 years olds and it has wonderful descriptive language, which is something that I appreciate in children’s books. I read it alongside my son who also approved this novel (great bonus, Yay for mum!). The story is engaging, the appeal of a mystery and a charming governess …. I would recommend this book to reluctant readers and fans of Lemony Snicket.
While reading I also listened to its audio version, which I would recommend, as Katherine Kellgren does a great job with the narration.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,345 reviews526 followers
February 17, 2018
This was a very enjoyable story and certainly invites the reader to continue reading the series. Penelope Lumley is a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and is anxious to represent her alma mater well in her first position as a governess. Her first students are a howling challenge -- literally. They were discovered in the woods after being raised by wolves. It is a joy to watch Miss Lumley take on the challenge with creativity and tenacity. You can't help but root for her and cheer as she sees the results of her teaching. There is much yet to be discovered. Why is the old coachman always lurking? Where are Penelope's parents? Where are the parents of her young charges? On to Book 2!
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