Stop two on the blog tour!
By Julie Klassen
Historical Fiction / Inspirational
Release Date: January 2011
Mariah Aubrey lives in seclusion with her secrets.
Will an ambitious captain uncover her identity… and her hidden past?
Banished from the only home she’s ever known, Mariah Aubrey hides herself away in an abandoned gatehouse on a distant relative’s estate. There she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how—by writing novels in secret.
When Captain Matthew Bryant leases the estate, he is intrigued by the beautiful girl in the gatehouse. But there are many things he doesn’t know about this beguiling outcast. Will he risk his plans—and his heart—for a woman shadowed by scandal?
Intriguing, mysterious, and romantic, The Girl in the Gatehouse takes readers inside the life of a secret authoress at a time when novel-writing was considered improper for ladies and the smallest hint of impropriety could change a woman’s life forever.
Last January, I reviewed Klassen’s 2010 release, The Silent Governess. I didn’t have many good things to say about it, and I wanted to slap the main character. As you might expect, I went into this one with a bit of trepidation and a sprinkle of hope.
And you know what? I liked it. The Girl in the Gatehouse wasn’t as clever or surprising as, say, Lady of Milkweed Manor, but it was a refreshing story with realistic characters and a plot that moves along at a good pace.
Apparently this novel was heavily influenced by Jane Austen’s work (the author’s note at the end explains exactly how), and as someone who’s never read Austen before, I was surprised at how much I liked this book and am now wondering if I need to get off my high horse and read some of Jane’s work. Argh! And I resisted for so long!
Ah, but back to this book. Unlike in her previous offering, I found the main character for this book to be much stronger, even though her off-screen impropriety was much more severe than Klassen’s other heroines.
There were moments when the story dragged, or when I thought a subplot was getting a bit messy, but I wonder if that might have been due to personal taste—I’ll be the first to admit I’m unfamiliar with the conventions in ‘Jane Austen period’ (Regency) lit.
On the whole, I thought the author skillfully evoked the atmosphere of the historical period she was writing in, and I didn’t mind the characters or the plot. In fact, I’d recommend the book to fans of period historicals and Jane Austen readers.
The inspirational element of the book is very minor, and fits in with the period atmosphere, when majority of people were still attending church and claimed to believe in God. Discussion of God flows naturally from the text, and doesn’t overwhelm the story or even jump out in a way that would make you point and say “Christian fiction!!!”. It’s subtle enough to blend in, as you’d expect from a historical in any genre.
If Austen/Regency is your thing, give this one a shot! (And I’ll give Austen a shot… *sigh*… I suppose it’s about time…)
Here’s a Q & A with the author! –> Questions with Julie Klassen on her latest release
Read an excerpt from the novel! –> Excerpt from ‘The Girl in the Gatehouse’
About the Author
Julie Klassen is a fiction editor with a background in advertising. She has worked in Christian publishing for more than twelve years, in both marketing and editorial capacities. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She enjoys travel, research, books, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".