Friday, February 1, 2013

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen: A Book Review

The Tutor’s Daughter 
By: Julie Klassen

Emma Smallwood, upon the failing achievements of her father’s school, unravels an adventure much greater than she bargains for when she takes matters in to her own hands. With the writing of a single letter, and its surprising response, both father and daughter find themselves transplanted to Cornwall, the two unruly boys of Lady Weston as their young scholars.

With the crashing sea below and storm-filled skies above, Ebbington Manor is rather contrary to Emma’s quiet home in Devonshire. Phillip and Henry, the eldest sons, recall Emma from their studies at her father’s boarding school - Phillip, his quiet admiration and Henry with his tricks and teasing. But things are not as they seem at Cornwall and the longer the Smallwoods stay, the more mysterious things become. Creaking floor boards, whirling wind and darkened whispers soon shed light on a long-abandoned secret. 

With Emma seemingly in the middle of it all, can she trust her heart long enough to find her way?
~ ~ ~
Probably my favorite book I’ve read in years, Julie Klassen’s novel is a beautiful story. Not only do her characters come to life, but her ability to paint a scene is truly stunning. I was right there with Emma and Phillip and Henry as the wind swept over Ebbington Manor, as the waves crashed violently on the rocks below, and I jumped with every creek of the old house, right along with Miss Smallwood. 

I often say that I find kindred spirits in between the pages of my books, but all of those seem to be an understatement after meeting Emma. The walls she keeps around her heart, her safe and ordered life, and her rationale of packing one less gown to make space for more books… what a dear dear friend I’ve found. 

I am reminded of a quote by Alan Bennet…
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met... And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours”
Filled with a plot of mystery and romance, Klassen weaves a story of secret fortunes and quietly pursued hearts alongside faith and forgiveness. It is not often that an author can so thoroughly engage not only a reader’s mind, but his heart as well. I was completely swept in to the story of Ebbington Manor, the Westons, and dear Emma. Written with such an elegant ease, it was simply irresistible to be transported back to Nineteenth Century England. 

I was quite sad to turn the final page and think I may just have to sit down this very moment to begin again.

Highly, highly recommended… simply wonderful.

*** With thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a copy of the manuscript in exchange for my honest opinion.

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