13-year old Matt is spending the holidays at the dilapidated Woodhall mansion where his spirited step-sister Caroline, aka "Caro", works as a cook. In a faded rose garden Matt meets Alix, proud old Madame Ayre's granddaughter, and is introduced to the tension-filled relationship between the embittered mother and her crippled son Theo. Matt must learn to judge character rather than appearances as Theo strives to turn the house into a home for orphans. Alix, through her willful foolishness, puts Theo's life in danger and brings a dramatic confrontation: Christian hope versus fatal self-pride. A timeless book with a fast-paced plot and vivid characters. Copyright 1963. 5.5 x 8.5 inches, Soft cover. 211 pp.
Comments by Dr. Mary Kay Clark: Though this is a story told by a young boy, young teen girls will like it more. Matt lived with his half-sister, who worked as a cook on an old English country estate. The co-owner of the estate was an old lady, but her granddaughter was about Matt's age, thirteen years old, whom he met in the estate garden, called Rose Round. They became friends and played together. His sister's boyfriend, the son of a wealthy Englishman who does not work himself, is a character whom Matt comes to analyze for what he really is. The most interesting person he met, however, was Theodore, the old lady's son. Theo's arm and hand were somewhat disfigured, and the story is much about how his mother treats him, and how other members of the family treat him because of his disfigurement. Theo works at a local school teaching children, and at one point, brings the children to the estate. The family is Catholic, though the members are at various stages of practicing the Faith. Matt comes to see how people are treated according to their position and wealth and beauty rather than who they are and the way they treat and care for others. This is a book worth reading by young teens as it helps them to think about some important issues relating to family, friends, and the Faith.
This book is part of a treasury of wholesome, character-building literature from Bethlehem Books.