Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Read the first chapter here

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementos?
The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her...
When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen was a wonderful novel that reminded me of the dialogue and secrets of Jane Austen's Northhanger Abbey, the forbidden romance and suspense of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and as well as displays its own wonderful storyline, characters, and setting. The plot line of The Tutor's Daughter was very interesting and quick paced, and it was filled with instances of mystery, danger, humor, kindness, and romance. One of the least predictable romances that I have ever read, I was drawn into the story from the very beginning and I could not bear to put this novel down at any time. The mystery and suspense in The Tutor's Daughter is spectacular, as every member of the Weston family, from the stepmother to all of the Weston sons to even the young ward Lizzie have very surprising secrets that they are withholding. The narration of this novel alternates mostly between the perspective of Emma and Henry, with a few sections being told more from Phillip's point of view. The setting of this novel was beautiful, with an old manor sequestered in the hills against a harsh and dangerous coastline. The setting was also used to beautifully add to the mood throughout the novel as tensions arose and unknown dangers were revealed.

The characters of The Tutor's Daughter were also very realistic and well written. Emma was an excellent character that I felt an immediate bond to. She is quiet, loves books, is kind to others, and is hesitant to accept change from what she knows and loves. She is a good teacher, and she is not afraid to confront others when they are acting wrongly. However, as a result of her mother's death, she has strayed away from God and seeking to live her life without Him. Henry and Phillip both have secrets that reveal them to be very different from what they seem. From her time with them when they were young pupils at her father's school, Emma remembers  Phillip as a kind and loyal friend and Henry as a rude, angry, and hurtful  young man. However, as Emma is reunited with both young men, she slowly begins to re-evaluate her views of their unique characters. Henry is by far my favorite character. He is filled with surprises and even some of his reprehensible acts from his childhood are shown to not be what they seem. I wish I could explain more of what I loved and admired about Henry, but unfortunately it would be too much of a spoiler to do so. The other minor characters of the ward Lizzy Henshaw, the younger Weston twin brothers, Julian and Rowan, and the evasive red-haired man who never stays away, are all intriguing and add to the overall suspense and breadth of the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen. The plot was fantastic, the characters engaging and realistic, the setting beautiful, and the spiritual message at the end was inspiring and convicting. This was my first novel of Julie Klassen that I have read, and I cannot wait to read more!

I received this novel for free from the Baker Division of Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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