It is 1963; the Andersons, a U.S. Air Force family, have rented an off-base, fully furnished, once-grand manor house from its owner, Mr. Edwards, who maintains an apartment in the rear wing. We are in Wiltshire, England, amid the gardens, damp weather, fog, inadequate heating system, and anti-American feelings. The manor house itself, reputed to have been built by a pirate in the mid-1600s, contains secret rooms, hidden passages, a treasure and a ghost. The three Anderson daughters, Nell age 5, Emily age 12, and Meredith age 16, have the adventure of their lives as they unlock its secrets.
The Old Manor House has two storytellers: first, Mr. Edwards, the somewhat secretive English gentleman who, while telling Emily of the manors history, enables the reader to sense the English love of history and tradition; second, Emily, the exuberant sixth-grader who narrates our current mystery.
Here is a high-interest novel of old-fashioned, positive relationships: the Andersons are a family who interact and like one another, the pirate was a loving husband and good man, the ghost was a loving mother and is a good ghost, Mr. Edwards is grand fatherly and a humanitarian, even the final disposition of three evil idols produces good results.