I am a long time fan of author Julie Klassen. I have read every book she has written with the exception of The Silent Governess. My favorites include The Secret of Pembrooke Park, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Painter’s Daughter. Klassen’s new novel, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, is a bit different than her prior novels. I can’t say that it will make my list of favorites, but it could be a start to an interesting series.
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill isn’t so much about a single character but about an entire town with a focus on a number of characters. If you follow period dramas and novels, I would liken the setting to Lark Rise to Candleford with hints of Jane Austen and even the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Klassen discloses these as inspiration in her Author’s Notes, but I assumed so as I read…especially because of a character named Sir Timothy (Lark Rise to Candleford).
Of all the characters Klassen writes about in this novel, my least favorite was Thora who gets quite a bit of page time. I am pretty sure she was meant to be more like a Dorkus (Lark Rise again) but I couldn’t shake the image of Harriet Olsen from Little House on the Prairie. Thora is a tough middle aged woman who lacks any gentility and was difficult to pull for in the story. My favorite character, Jane, didn’t get as much page time as Thora. Well, at least it felt that way. The book begins with Jane and her current predicament of widowhood, looming debt, and an Inn she never really had much to with that is now hers to run. This novel is not about Jane finding love again, or being rescued by anyone but herself. I’ll admit that I am a sucker for romantic historical fiction and because all romance in this book belongs to Thora…I struggled.
I will read the next book in this series, with hope that I will see some closure for characters I feel like I have come to know. Klassen is still one of my favorite authors, this just wasn’t my favorite book. It took me longer than usual to get through, but I did finish. I would encourage you to read The Painter’s Daughter to really get why Klassen is such an amazing writer. She really is top notch. I was given a complimentary copy of this title by its publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions and thoughts are my own and I have not been compensated.