With a quirky style evocative of Lemony Snicket, and unexpected Jane Eyre elements, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is about a young governess and her three er… unusual pupils.

Penelope Lumley was a student at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females when the following ad caught her eye:

Wanted Immediately: energetic Governess for Three Lively Children Knowledge of French, Latin, History, Etiquette, Drawing, and Music will be Required – Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred.

At Ashton Place she discovers the three children were found in the woods by Lord Ashton (an avid hunter), and had been raised by wolves. But Penelope is an optimist, and it takes more than wolf-children (or having to teach them schottische for a Christmas Party) to discourage her.

My audiobook was read by Kathryn Kellgren, and although I was sorry to miss  Jon Klassen’s, Kellgren does an amazing job with the satire, the madcap humor and the occasions howl. It’s a very original book and I had to laugh out loud by myself several times:

“In this way Penelope’s happy and sad feelings got all mixed up together, until they were not unlike one of those delicious cookies they have nowadays, the ones with a flat circle of sugary cream sandwiched between two chocolate-flavored wafers. In her heart she felt a soft, hidden core of sweet melancholy nestled inside crisp outer layers of joy, and if that is not the very sensation most people feel at some point or other during the holidays, then one would be hard pressed to say what is.”

“Clearly, being anxious is a full-time and rather exhausting occupation.”

“There is no alarm clock like embarassment.”

And my absolute favorite:

“If it were easier to resist, it would not be called Chocolate Cake.”

It’s a short book, with several of characters, but Wood give us enough to make each distinguishable and memorable. I found Penelope particularly likable, with her no-nonsense and practical approach to challenges.

The Incorrigible Children is funny, endearing, intriguing, and any book lover will revel in the clever references to Dickens, Longfellow and other literary personalities. I just can’t help but wish it wasn’t part of a series. I wish it would be a stand-alone little pearl of a book, enough in itself.

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Other thoughts: Books by their Cover, Confessions of a Bibliovore, Good Books & Good Wine, Madigan Books, Becky’s Book Reviews,  An Abundance of Books, Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog (yours?)

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