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A Heritage of Shadows
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A Heritage of Shadows

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  439 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
It is 1890 and Hannah McLeod, an 18 year-old English girl, is living in Paris, where she works at a small restaurant. Only her neighbour, Toby Kent, a struggling artist, knows the strange and horrifying secret that makes her afraid to return to England. Then one night, rescuing a stranger, Andrew Doyle, from attach by Montmarte apaches, Hannah unwittingly becomes entangled ...more
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published March 1st 1984 by Doubleday (first published 1983)
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Diane Lynn
Feb 25, 2015 Diane Lynn rated it really liked it
Shelves: france, mexico, england, art
Another good book by Madeleine Brent. The title refers to the heroine's (Hannah McLeod) past. That past is revealed around page 160 and was quite a shocker. Yes, as usual, Hannah overcomes her past but it really is a distressing past. Be forewarned!
May 17, 2009 Suzanne rated it did not like it
Let me start by saying: I love, love, love Madeleine Brent. But I wish someone had warned me about this book.

Most of Brent's heroines are overcoming something from their past, but the revelation about this character's past life was a little too much for me. So I am warning all of you Brent fans out there while trying not to give away the plot: this is called A Heritage of Shadows for a reason. The revelation in this book is very dark and quite depressing. I read this as a teenager and would not
My least favorite among MB books. The Victorian period is well portrayed -far from the romantic notion we get in other books. Hannah is such a strong character, she went thru so many things -things that may have led another woman to suicide, but she values her life so much.

All men in this book -except for Toby Kent- were assholes.

A really depressing book, which I was not looking for since the last book I've read left me depressed enough.
Aug 08, 2016 Charybdis rated it really liked it
Paris, 1891. Hannah McLeod, 18 years old, lives in a shabby room in Montmartre and works as a waitress since she was 17. She can speak English and French fluently, is obviously well educated, but is secretive about her parents and how all this came about, even to us, the readers. Half way through the book this is explained and it turns out to be the main reason behind about everything that happens in the book. Although she doesn't want to return to England, circumstances force her to take a posi ...more
Oct 11, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though this has the same basic plot as all his (Madeleine Brent is a pen name)books, I still enjoyed seeing how the story played out.

Hannah McLeod is resilient and determined to live her life honestly and I loved her character. I wasn't as shocked about her 'secret' as some other reviewers were but was still surprised.

I think the teen me would have loved this book to pieces, thinking how dramatic and heart-wrenching Hannah's past was, but the adult me can only admire the courage and streng
Sep 25, 2008 Christin rated it it was ok
I have really enjoyed the previous books I have read by Brent but I did not really care for this one. It was not quite as mysterious or adventurous as some of the others are. I would not take the time to read this one again.
Dec 14, 2011 Wendy rated it it was ok
I am on a Madeleine Brent kick. This one was kind of lame-o. Not as good as the others.
Dec 30, 2014 Anneceleste rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
hannah is working as a waitress in a restaurant when she heads home one night and stops a couple of thugs from robbing a well-off gentleman. hannah takes him to her apartment until she can find out who he is, and where he belongs. her neighbour, toby, an artist isn't there to help her. after the gentleman's family comes to get her, strange things start happening to hannah. she eventually agrees to go to england and become a governess. once she does, she meets up with the gentleman again
Sep 15, 2008 Angie rated it liked it
Shelves: good-uns
The story follows young Hannah MacLeod who has lived more life in her eighteen years than most have by the time they're fifty. When the tale opens she is working twelve hours a day at a small bistro in Montmartre, living in a one-room apartment that ranks just above a garret, and is pleased as punch to be doing so. Her perplexing attitude is explained through the hinting of some horror in her past which led to her fleeing her native England for Paris and the comforting anonymity of her current l ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Janeece rated it really liked it
Excellent book with very heavy content. The shadows that Hannah McLeod lives with are very difficult and although not described explicitly, very, at least, PG-13 rated. Actually, I wouldn't let my teenagers read this one. The story is very captivating with one turn after the other to keep you guessing as to what will happen.
Aug 08, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. Full of intrigue and true to Brent's style, a twist or two is thrown in just when you think the story is becoming predictable. I must warn that while historically accurate (and unfortunately still accurate for young girls all over the world), parts of this story are sickening and heartbreaking.
I can honestly say that the entire story was a complete surprise. I was not expecting such a realistic, intense tale in a book aimed at young adults.
The story is about a young girl who was forced into a deplorable situation, however she was able to surface and overcome it all regardless of her many difficulties. Hannah is a very strong, admirable character and people everywhere should emulate her will to survive.

Madeleine Brent should definitely be commended for writing a story set in Victorian
May 09, 2013 Emilie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, romance
Kirja ei tehnyt suurta vaikutusta. Kaikki oli niin miellyttävää ja optimistista, ettei suuria tunteita juuri syntynyt. Melkeinpä meinasin jopa pitkästyä, vaikka tapahtumia periaatteessa riitti Meksikoonki asti. Hannah McLeod oli päähenkilönä mukava ja kaikin puolin rohkea nuori neito, joka on käynyt läpi elämässään kovia aikoja, mutta kaipasin häneltä silti väkevämpiä tunteita. Itsenäinen asuminen Pariisin Montmartella ja kotiopettajaksi siirtyminen Enlgantiin olivat myös melko perinteisiä juone ...more
Rebekah Crary
Aug 12, 2014 Rebekah Crary rated it liked it
Agree with Suzanne! This was good, but didn't like some of the plot. Too risqué for my taste. Still remember the ending and I read it about 10 or so years ago.
May 15, 2016 Terryjean rated it really liked it
Enjoyed learning about that era
I think M. Brent should be back into print her stories are so interesting. True, most of her heroines sounds all like the same woman from book to book, but the stories are all very interesting and compelling, with lush settings and intrigue. Hannah is a waitress working in a French restaurant. One night she rescues a man being robbed by street thugs and from there she is launched into the adventure of her life. Her backstory tragic, makes for this being my favorite book.
Aug 21, 2007 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: Madeleine Brent books are comfort reads for me. I can pick up any of them at any time and enjoy, despite their obvious flaws (outdatedness, racism, etc.).

An English girl with a shadowy past lives in Paris near a bohemian painter whom she occasionally sits for. Strange things happen, and she ends up teaching French with a family in England, but she's not sure that's the real purpose of her employment. And so on...
Jul 13, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
Very well done. Interesting and complex story. It was certainly NOT your predictable love story, at least for me. But definitely beautiful and intriguing. I loved it, though not as much as Moonrakers. I did feel that the surprise ending should have had a few more hints along the way; it was a little too shocking to fully grasp. But I did have a smile on my face when I finally finished.
May 01, 2015 Krissy rated it liked it
2.5 stars. Is it possible for a book to jump the shark? I feel like that's what this book did at the end. One too many plot twists. Plus, the heroine was a little too hardy. The most horrible things happen to her and it doesn't seem to faze her. It's hard to feel something, when the main character doesn't.
Sep 09, 2009 Katie rated it liked it
This book made me really mad, and then really happy. The content/storyline is a bit surprising and bit inappropriate. If you're going to read one of her books, made sure it's Golden Urchin or Tregarron's Daughter, they're definitely worth you're time. The other ones, not quite as much, but still decent reads.
Jan 11, 2014 Heidi rated it really liked it
My favorite by this author. What can I say? I like dark.
Aug 17, 2010 Lacey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd really give this one 3.5 stars. While not my favorite by this author, I'm convinced that he (yes, Madeleine Brent was a pen name!)cannot write a book that I don't love. His caliber of writing is just not one found often these days, and his books keep me captivated from start to finish.
Save yourself some time and skip this pick. Even if you enjoy this sort of book, there are better titles out there.

For a full review visit
Nov 04, 2012 Karin rated it it was ok
My least favourite of the Brent books. There were times when I really wanted to slap the heroine into some sense. She was ridiculously naive, considering her past; and a touch self involved.
Nov 20, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it
This one is a little darker, dealing with a more shocking conflict for the heroine. I do love this heroine though...she is one tough girl.
Diane Stringam Tolley
Sep 08, 2011 Diane Stringam Tolley rated it really liked it
Wonderful story, but with a twist that I didn't want to believe, though it is very believable. Again, strength in adversity.
Apr 06, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
Such a classic, dramatic & fun mystery/romance. Thank you Charles Taylor for the recommendation.
Feb 15, 2011 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing
Great little mystery with a nice amount of romance.
Sep 13, 2010 Tehzeeb rated it really liked it
Its a good one.I read it in my college days.
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Madeleine Brent is a pseudonym used by Peter O'Donnell.

Peter O'Donnell was born on 11 April 1920 in Lewisham, London, England, UK. He was interested in writing as a child, and began writing professionally at the age of 16. During World War II he served in the Royal Signals Corps, and was stationed in Persia, Syria, Egypt, the Western Desert, Italy, and Greece. After the war, he worked as a comic s
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