The Tutor's Daughter is Julie Klassen's best novel yet. Not only is it a puzzling suspense rich in historic detail, but also a believable love story.
Klassen addresses several common practices of the regency era - education by a tutor, wreckers scavenging and profiting from shipwrecks, and sending away handicapped children to foster families. Her note at the end of the novel adds additional detail about Cornwall's history of shipwrecks and Jane Austin's own family - one of her older brothers was sent to a foster family due to his mental or physical affliction.
One of the things I like best is that there is no sudden, inexplicable attraction that Emma feels toward Henry, like in so many novels where the hero and heroine are at odds from the start. While Henry appears to have been attracted to Emma from their first meeting nearly a decade ago (and promptly showed it in typical schoolboy fashion through insults and practical jokes), Emma's attraction is based on slowly getting to know him as a man who cares for people and his home. Yes, she is incredibly suspicious of him at first - and who wouldn't be after years of practical jokes? - and as long as she suspects him of his old tricks, she really does not feel any attraction toward the man. However, as he proves himself time and again to be a mature and compassionate man, her heart changes toward him. It is a much sweeter and more realistic (and healthier!) love story than most romantic novels can boast, be they secular or Christian.
While the book is not full of scripture quotes or zealous characters, Klassen still weaves in a good message. Throughout the book Emma grows from a very regimented girl who prefers to order her life in the safest and most predictable way possible to an open woman who refuses to let fear and order imprison her. In opening her heart to Henry and God, she opens her heart to pursuing her own dreams. I especially liked that Henry cares enough about Emma's spiritual state to make sure Emma turns to God with her whole heart, and that it is not just in the heat of the moment because she is about to die.
Emma Smallwood is the daughter of a tutor from Devonshire. Her father runs a small school for young men, Smallwood Academy. A young woman with a great love for books and education, she assists her father with the running of the school after her mother's death. Her father has sunk into a depression following the death of his wife, which has affected their prospects of keeping the school open. They are invited to move to Cornwall and provide a private education for twin boys, Julian and Rowan, younger brothers of two previous pupils, Henry and Philip Weston. Soon after their arrival, strange things begin to happen at night which lead to many questions surrounding what the Weston's could be hiding.
I have read and enjoyed every one of Klassen's novels. I believe this one is her best yet. Laden with intrigue, the story keeps you guessing at what kind of plot twist will come next. The characters are well developed and come across with great depth. There is plenty of complexity in the two main characters, Emma and Henry. My one minor complaint is that I would have loved an extra chapter or two or an epilogue to fully wrap up the storyline. Overall, this novel is highly recommended.
(I've received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)
When I started reading this book, I knew I recognized the writing style, but I couldn't place it until I noticed it was the same author as "The Maid of Fairbourne Hall." And then I knew I was going to love the book, and that is a vast understatement! This book reads like a classic. The author loves Jane Austen and "Jane Eyre," and this comes through clearly in the style and the story. Indeed, Julie Klassen has got to be one of the finest Christian historical fiction authors out there today, and I would love to read every single book she has ever written and ever will write.
This book has it all--romance, history, mystery, intrigue, and so much more. I found myself so enraptured with the story that I did not want to put it down. It is a 400-something page book, but it never dragged. The characters were well-developed, and you couldn't help but love Emma and Henry. I have to admit that I wasn't even sure how the romance would play out, but the ending was exactly as it should have been. No sappy romance--just true love. Oh, and it almost goes without saying--no sex scenes nor profanity.
The Christian message is woven expertly into the novel without beating you over the head with it. This is always what I appreciate about well-written Christian fiction. The gospel is never out of place in the book. The characters are real and come to rely on God in a special way. I would not think that this kind of book would appeal to any historical romance fans out there, and you are guaranteed a clean read.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Julie Klassen's The Tutors Daughter is set in Cornwell England in 1812. There we are taken on a journey through an English manor, a forbidden romance, and forbidden north wing which hold a household mystery.
When John Smallwood accepts a job tutoring the younger son's on Giles Weston, he takes along his daughter, Emma as his teaching assistant. But they soon find that what seems to be an ideal job turns into anything but.
There were a wide variety of characters and a number of them that I thought were well done, among them Emma, Henry, and Lizzy, but there were a several that also didn't quite measure up, John Smallwood, Sir Giles Weston, and Phillip Weston.
Emma Smallwood I really liked her. She was great combination of spunky and daring, but she is also compassionate and intelligent. She doesn't act impulsively, she thinks things through before she acts. The one thing that really didn't seem in character for her, when she thought that someone was sneaking into her room at night to watch her sleep and she didn't say anything to her father for fear of worrying him. Given their close relationship and the fact that he is her father, I would have thought that he would have been the one person that she would have confided in, instead she tells Henry, who she wasn't all that confident of. This was not a major item by any means, just an observation.
Henry Weston was you typical gothic hero. Strong, mysterious, yet willing to put his heart on the line when the time is right. I have to admit, when we first hear about him, I didn't like him at all. But once the story started to unfold within Weston Manor, and we got to see the real Henry, the one who could let his guard down with those that he really tursted, that is when I really thought he began to shine. He was always careful with Emma, always protective of her, willing to sacrifice for her, I mean what's not to like?!
Lizzie was the most carefully crafted character of them all. When all was revealed, her part and why she did what she did, was marvelous! As a reader who loves mysteries, it's always a thrill for me when the author can give me a twist plot I never have seen coming.
This is a bigger book, over 400 pages so the reader definitely gets their monies worth.
I thought the author did a brilliant job of combining the Jane Austin style with a creepy gothic feel as well as giving us several different viewpoints about people view on autism at this time.
This is the first book I have read by author Julie Klassen. I would have to say, I did enjoy reading this book, however, I felt there was a lack of connectivity. There was difficulty connecting to the characters and the fluidity of the plot was disjointed. The first half of the book was long and drawn out, then at the half-way point there was a plot twist that was more "random" than an "intriguing surprise." Then, towards the end, the romance and climax escalated rapidly in an awkward manner leaving several loose ends.
I liked the author's writing style, the descriptions, and the history. However, I was sad about how un-relatable the characters were. Emma was, for the majority of the story, a very "boring" character. Prim and proper, and up until the end, she showed little backbone when situations were escalating to dangerous.
Overall, this was a pleasant read. I enjoyed reading this book while on my lunch break at work. I would read more by Julie Klassen so this wasn't an utter disappointment. I guess to sum this review up, I would have liked to have seen more connectivity from beginning to end. I would have liked to see more consistency in the character's actions and behaviors and would have liked the plot to have been more fluid. (Plot twists are fine, just make sure they connect). Mainly, I would liked to have felt some connection with the characters, and that was not achieved in this book.
The Biblical theme was well incorporated into the story and I think that this was the saving piece to this book. Emma did undergo a change of heart throughout the pages that brings her back to a relationship with God.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.