The Tutor's Daughter is another delightful offering from Julie Klassen.
Emma Smallwood is determined to get her father out of his depression and find new pupils for his boarding school. But a letter written to Weston family instead results in an invitation for Mr. Smallwood to come to Ebbington Manor as a private tutor for the family's two younger sons.
Emma agrees to this scheme with trepidation in part due to her past dealings with the two elder Weston brothers. Would Henry still be her tormentor and Phillip her friend?
But when the Smallwoods arrive at Ebbington they are unexpected though they had written of their plans. With a less than hospitable welcome the Smallwoods settle in. But something is wrong. Noises in the night. Letters left in Emma's room. Items missing. Someone or something is threatening her. To whom can she turn? Or are these merely youthful pranks and the work of spoiled young men?
As Emma helps her father with Julian and Rowan's lessons, she becomes aware that Ebbington is a place of secrets and she is determined to discover what they are. But some secrets are never suppose to be revealed and could cost Emma dearly!
To Emma's delight and confusion Lady Weston has a ward, Lizzie is but a few years younger than Emma and may be the friend that she had always hoped for. But Lizzie is as changeable as the wind and she is guarding a secret of the heart.
As Emma renews her acquaintance with the two brothers who used to board at her father's school might she too find a secret of the heart as well? Or will the secret that is hiding within the walls of Ebbington destroy all?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Tutor's Daughter which is definitely written in the vein of Jane Austen with a touch of Gothic novel thrown into the mix. There is a search for God and a searching for why prayers appear to be unanswered when we don't get what we want. This book made for an excellent late night reading choice.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher Bethany House for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Do you like books that are full of mystery, intrigue, and romance wrapped with a deep faith in God? Then The Tutor's Daughter is a book for you. Set in the era of Jane Austen & Jane Eyre, this book held me throughout and was very hard to put down.
Emma Smallwood and her father travel some distance from their home so that Mr. Smallwood can teach the younger brothers of his former students who attended his small boarding school.
Immediately upon their arrival strange things begin to happen. As they escalate, Emma wonders which brother is causing it all... One of the two brothers who stayed with them when they were in school, or the two younger brothers she and her father are teaching. Emma decides that she'll handle this on her own as she does everything else.
Her faith is shaky and tested... and she learns that all isn't as it seems with each of the brothers. She also learns more about herself... but read the book and find out for yourself how things turn out in another great novel by Julie Klassen.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.
Emma Smallwood has helped her father run his school for boys since she was but a young girl herself. Once her mother dies, she can't bear to leave him as he loses vigor for life and their enrollment dwindles. She sees a chance for change and hope when she receives a letter from Sir Giles Weston, the father of two of their former students, inviting Miss Smallwood and her father to come live on the estate and tutor the two youngest Weston men. Once there, however, the tutors find their presence is not altogether welcomed and there seem to be secrets around every corner. What is going on in the manor, and which Westons are part of it, and which Westons can be trusted?
I think that this book could have been a good suspense story. Or a good romance story. However, it tried too hard to be both, and didn't really succeed at either. The suspense aspects of the plot were so drawn out that it lost the on-edge feeling, as it tried to fit the love story in between the revelations of the family's secrets. And there were so many attempts to put the reader off track about who loved whom, that it was hard to really care about most of them getting together at all. Characters' personalities shifted so drastically throughout the story that it was hard to relate to them. There were several small things about the plot and story that bothered me as well; for instance, if Emma grew up right next door to an all-girls' school run by her aunt, why did she not attend classes there?
That said, I didn't dislike the book; I just didn't love it. The writing style was good, I just felt the plot could have been a bit tighter. I still cared about Emma and wanted to see how the book would turn out for her; I enjoyed seeing her come a bit out of her tutor shell and be willing to stand up for herself and do what she thought right.
I very much enjoyed this read. Set in Cornwall, England, early 1800's, it is filled with mystery, and since it has been a while since I read a Klassen novel, I had forgotten how suspenseful they can be. Unlike other novels she has written, I did not get an overwhelming sense of faith and God until much later in the book, but she does bring home the importance of both near the end.
Since the author loves Jane Austen (as do I), we are introduced to sweet Aunt Jane (smile). But, the story is mainly about Miss Emma Smallwood. She is so young, about 21. So, while she has book wisdom, not a lot of experience yet. She is highly organized and loves to make lists of all sorts. Since she has grown up in a boys boarding school, she has not had the opportunity for many social outlets. There are many supporting characters, mainly in the Ebbington Manor house, set high upon a cliff overlooking the ocea. Several of those characters are quite hard to like and/or trust. But, there are some treasures - like the mystery guest. I will not give any more away about that.
Tea was featured throughout, as was appropriate in England during that time. I loved that and enjoyed brewing a cuppa as I poured over the novel (pun intended).
Overall, I would recommend this book. I thought the ending was quite satisfactory as well. I am a huge fan of Regency Romance written by Christian authors. I can't wait for Julie Klassen's next novel!
Things I would appreciate: a glossary of old fashioned terms is most helpful, so that we may learn and grow our own vocabulary.
Things that ARE included:
*Discussion Questions for the reader to ponder or for a Book Club :)
*Author's Notes regarding historical references and also that her fictional Ebbington Manor is based upon Efford Down House and nearby Ebbingford Manor (both owned by the same family). She discovered them on a recent trip to England. During that trip she was able to visit the Jane Austen Center in Bath, England. Based upon that trip, she formulated a basis for her mystery guest. I appreciate her notes on this.
*As with her other books, each chapter opens with a random quote, the author wished to share, and which somehow relates to the chapter, such as: "While she_had been planning a most eligible connection for him, was it to be supposed that he could be all the time secretly engaged to another person! Such a suspicion could never have entered her head!" - Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility.
I received this copy for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
What a book! The author, Julie Klassen, says she likes all things Jane...Jane Austen and Jane Eyre! And this book shows it! Set on the coast in Cornwall, England, Julie uses words to paint beautiful pictures of landscapes, 1800s clothing, the British aristocracy, and life for a simple, smart Tutor's daughter who thinks that love has passed her by. The four sons of Sir Giles Weston are all mysterious in their own ways. Henry and Phillip are grown and have gone through Emma's father's school as young lads. Younger sons Rowan and Julian are now in need of a formal education, and Emma and her father are invited to come to their estate to tutor the 15 year old twins for the year. Will Emma get to spend time with her old friend Phillip? Will Henry, her antagonist from earlier years, continue to tease her and play mean jokes on her, even though he is now a man? And what are those strange sounds she hears in the manor late at night? Who is coming into her room? Yes, it's a bit of Jane Eyre and Jane Austen all right! You'll hardly be able to put it down. And you'll feel like you've been on vacation to the shores of Cornwall in the process. Enjoy!