Book review: The Manor House Stories: Lady Davina Dove : A Christmas Story by Jani Tully Chaplin

If you liked watching Downtown Abbey and reading Mouseton Abbey you will certainly enjoy The Manor House Stories: Lady Davina Dove: A Christmas Story by Jani Tully Chaplin. We certainly loved it!

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The Lord of the House here is the noblest bird in the country, Lord Peregrine Falcon, a high-flying Edwardian gentleman who rules the roost at his magnificent stately home, the Manor House, with his charming wife Lady Davina Dove.


The stories involve lots of young birds in various adventures in the English countryside.

A Christmas Story is one of 12 little books of The Manor House Stories which has this endorsement from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes: ‘The Manor House Stories create a wonderful and detailed world in miniature full of truth and consequence, like all good stories should, giving us lessons about life but in the most charming way imaginable’.

In this wintery story, every bird in the Manor House is busy preparing for the festive season from gifts, stockings, the Christmas tree, food and sweets.

Even Father Christmas rides in by moonlight and Lady Davina’s lifelong secret wish comes true.

The illustrations are simply amazing and sometimes you stop reading to wonder how these were made, as they look like they are magical.

Like the Peter Rabbit books series we think this will also become a classic. In fact, we wonder how this hasn’t been discovered earlier.


What we love about this story and author is that The Manor House Stories™ were written by Jani Tully Chaplin 25 years ago for her children when she was living in Devon. They remained undiscovered until a chance meeting in Corfu in 2011 when she met her publisher, since which time the many wonderful illustrations have been added and the series of 12 stories finally brought back to life. This is like a princess fairy tale in the world of publishing! 🙂

Jani was born in Devon and developed a love of painting and drawing from the age of five; she later studied Art and History of Art in England and abroad. Jani and her husband Jeremy now divide their time between Devon and the Cotswolds.

Working in watercolour and gouache provides a perfect medium for her delicate and finely detailed style; her subjects reflect facets of her experience, her infectious personality and quirky sense of humour, which combine easily with her skills as a meticulous observer of nature and interest in disappearing traditional rural customs and gentler ways of life. Jani is an established designer with a large selection of nature and wildlife illustrations to her credit; many of these have been licensed and commissioned both at home in the UK and worldwide to great acclaim.

Mark Hendriksen Publishing – hardback – RRP £7.99 each

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