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Set in Stone

Set in Stone

4.0 3
by Linda Newbery

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When Samuel Godwin, a young and naive art tutor, accepts a job with the Farrow family at their majestic home, little does he expect to come across a place containing such secrets and lies. His two tutees are as different as can be--younger sister Marianne, full of flightiness and nervous imagination, and Juliana, sensible and controlled. Helped by their governess,


When Samuel Godwin, a young and naive art tutor, accepts a job with the Farrow family at their majestic home, little does he expect to come across a place containing such secrets and lies. His two tutees are as different as can be--younger sister Marianne, full of flightiness and nervous imagination, and Juliana, sensible and controlled. Helped by their governess, Charlotte Agnew, Samuel begins to uncover slowly why Marianne is so emotionally fragile, and in doing so uncovers a web of intrigue. But his discoveries lead to revenge and betrayal--and lives all around are turned upside down.

Linda Newbery has written a novel in diary style, combining different voices and a different century with her usual brilliance and ease. These are characters full of the same passions as our own today, while living in an unfamiliar and fascinating time.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathryn Erskine
This gothic novel is told in alternating chapters by the governess of two teenaged girls who have just lost their mother and the young art student who has arrived to tutor them. The author is skillful at drawing the reader in, as an air of mystery underlies everything and everyone at the beautiful mansion. The mansion itself is a character, hiding many secrets. Hints are dropped and truths uncovered as the story progresses at a faster and faster pace. The setting, characters, and dialogue are believable and engaging, and the writing accurately reflects the tone of the time. The descriptions are beautiful. Things are not always what they seem, however, and the supposedly happy father and daughters may be hiding secrets that are as shocking today as they would have been in Victorian England, the setting of this novel. The feel is of an adventurous mystery such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, but the revelations at the end are more sinister, including incest and suicide.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
Like Newbery's previous novel, A Shell House, this is a story about YAs, not precisely adolescents, and would appeal to both YAs and adults. It is set in the English countryside, in the latter part of the 19th century, and features a Gothic situation: a grand, isolated home and a young person who enters the household in all innocence, only to uncover an evil lurking behind the genteel facade. In this case, the person introduced to the strange family is a man, Samuel Godwin, a young artist hired by the father of the house to teach painting to his daughter, Juliana, who is withdrawn, sad and sickly. Samuel soon determines she is hiding a secret that is eating away at her health. There is a younger sister, Marianne, wild and beautiful; the young man is susceptible to her, knowing he must resist the attraction because of her youth. There is no mother in the household, but there is a young woman, Charlotte Agnew, who runs the household. The sisters treat her as part of the family. Part of the denouement is discovering just how closely Charlotte is connected to this family. Over nearly 400 pages, the mystery is slowly revealed. Newbery uses letters, changes in narrative voice (sometimes it's Samuel, sometimes Charlotte) to continue the story; even the final obituary from the London Times reveals portions of the truth. It's a complicated plot, featuring incest (the father has abused his daughter) and other family secrets (those Victorians were strange prudes). Readers who love Wuthering Heights and other such Gothic tales will certainly enjoy shivering over Set in Stone.
VOYA - Chris Carlson
In 1898, young artist Samuel Godwin is engaged by the wealthy Ernest Farrow as an art tutor for his two daughters, sixteen-year-old Marianne and nineteen-year-old Juliana. Shortly after he arrives at Fourwinds, Farrow's impressive country manor, Samuel becomes curious about why the talented Gideon Waring was fired before he could complete his commissioned sculptures for the exterior of Fourwinds. Searching out the sculptor, Samuel learns from him that Mr. Farrow had an incestuous relationship with Juliana that resulted in the birth of a son who is being raised by the girl's former governess. Horrified and disgusted, Samuel confronts Ernest with his discovery and realizes that it is Ernest's intention to have Samuel marry Juliana, adopt the boy, and set the child up as the heir to Fourwinds. Shortly afterward, Ernest Farrow drowns in an unfortunate accident. Moving ahead twenty years, the fates of the main characters are revealed. The complex characters are well drawn, and the most flawed, Ernest Farrow, and his obsession for a male heir is what drives this grim story. Rich in atmosphere and descriptive narrative and written with an accurate sense of the era, the book resembles classic gothic mysteries. This novel is far from classic, however. The story is almost too dark, the ending depressing, and the main characters are somewhat pathetic and weak. Readers might finish the novel appreciating the author's writing skills yet be disappointed in the story.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up —The setting, set-up, and characters in this entertaining suspense novel are pure Victorian Gothic. At the close of the 19th century, an earnest young artist named Samuel Godwin has been hired by a wealthy man to tutor his elder daughter at their magnificent country estate. Samuel arrives by foot on a moonlit night, hears wild shrieking in the woods, and encounters a seemingly mad young girl in a nightdress before he reaches the front door. Pushing his forebodings aside, Samuel enters the life of the household and becomes obsessed with the vibrant younger sister, Marianne, who is a talented artist. The secluded mansion is a hothouse of repressed emotions, and Samuel begins to suspect that this family is a lot more complicated than it appears. His sleuthing leads to a crescendo of climactic revelations. Readers learn that there is a secret baby, that the baby is the older daughter's son, and that the prime suspect for fatherhood is gay and so "couldn't" have fathered the child. This is just the beginning. There is incest, another unacknowledged child, an attempted suicide, and the accidental-on-purpose drowning of the predatory father during a raging storm. The potboiler action would seem to presage an equally dramatic ending. But the final pages are more autumnal in mood, a look back on the compromises and losses throughout the characters' lives. Only Marianne appears unscathed; still vibrant, she leads a bohemian life of art and lovers, in the very house her father built.
—Carolyn LehmanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A heady, mesmerizing Victorian tale of intrigue, family and art. In 1898, aspiring young artist Samuel Godwin is hired by imposing Mr. Farrow as tutor for his daughters, Juliana, 19, and Marianne, 16. They live at Fourwinds, a gorgeous estate that has statues that are "Pagan and classical both at once," representing winds on three sides of the building. The missing West Wind is the focus of Marianne's passionate enthusiasm-and perhaps madness. Juliana's demure comportment implies an abiding pain. Their mother has recently died, their former governess fired, the sculptor banished. Charlotte, the current governess/companion, is ever-attentive but secretive; even in the chapters that she narrates, readers don't know her past. A few chapters are epistolary, and the rest are Samuel's. Newbery's touch is graceful as she unveils layers of the mystery to Samuel, Charlotte and readers-not always at the same time. Even when the revelations darken, evocative, intoxicating writing and a gothic touch keep the suspense coming. A worthy descendent of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Gardners Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Linda Newbery is the author of over twenty books for children and young adults, and lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and three cats. The author lives in England.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Set in Stone 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set in Stone is one of those books that starts out interesting then jumps right into the mystery. All of the protagonists are likable, from Samuel's earnestness, Charlotte's smarts, and Marianne and Juliana as sisters with very different natures. The story is quite a bit dark, but I recommend it for anyone who likes the Victorian Era and its seedier side.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago