Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Painter's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It's where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she's beautiful.

Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother's neglected duties. Home on leave, he's sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter's daughter. He's startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him--one of Wesley's discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.

Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she'll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.

Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family's estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?

The Painter's Daughter by Julie Klassen was a poignant novel that illustrates the danger of a certain type of man and how God can redeem even the most broken of circumstances. I thought this novel was very well written with a wonderful combination of suspense, betrayal, danger, and a dash of romance. At times I thought the story wandered a little, but overall, I was pulled deep into the story, and I wanted for Sophie and Stephen to find a way to make it work out. The characters were by far the best part of the novel. They were realistic and well rounded, each with their own combination of strengths and weaknesses. The story was in third person, but it alternated between Stephen, Wesley, and Sophie's point of view.

Wesley was the (almost) sympathetic villian of the story. I thought that he correctly demonstrated the fallenness of man and took to the extreme how we all are apart from a relationship with God. He did experience growth as a character, but he tried to do it on his own apart from seeking completely after God, so in the end, it was a failure. Sophie was my favorite. Despite her initial sins, she did turn back to God, and she grew as a young woman as she learned to trust in God and to be trustworthy. I did think God could have been included a little bit more to explain the growth in her character. Stephen was a good character, but I did sometimes think that there could have been more time spent on his development. He did change as his feelings for Sophie grew, and I did appreciate his strength of will and moral character, however.

The other minor characters were also well written, and some of them also experienced growth throughout the story, though again, it seemed to be without a reliance on God. Overall, I enjoyed the complexity of this story and the way that the different characters and plotlines all worked together. However, I did wish that the successful growth in many of the characters was more clearly shown to be through God instead of individual's strength of will.

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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