Friday, January 07, 2011

Book Review: "The Girl in the Gatehouse" by Julie Klassen

Summary by BN.com: Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret.

Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans.

The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

This book is full of secrets. Secrets that could change the lives of those holding them if they are revealed. And what better setting for a book about secrets is in a regency story? This book is a wonderful tale of how even if your past is sordid or not the best, you can decide how it will affect your future and you can control what you want to happen.

There are touches of Austen throughout the story. I immediately recognized Captain Bryant as a version of Captain Wentworth from Persuasion and they both share similar story lines. Mariah is based on Maria Bertram from Mansfield Park and I found that to be extremely interesting. I did NOT like Maria at all and I felt that she deserved her outcome after what she did in the MP. However, even though the same situation happened to Mariah in this book I felt sympathy for her. Maybe it's because Mariah wasn't already married or because she comes off as a more likable character but either way, it's a fascinating look at seeing the situation from different sides of the story.

While I liked this book very much, there were a bit too many subplots that became confusing at times. First there's the whole main plot with Mariah and her writing. Then there's the relationship with Mariah and Bryant. There is also Mariah's past which the reader is kept in the dark for most of the book. Plus there is Bryant's relationships, the story dealing with Captain Prince, Dixon and Martin's relationship, the plight of the residents of the poorhouse next door and the secrets that estate Mariah lives in holds. It's enough to make one's head spin trying to keep track of everything. Luckily by the end of the story everything is either resolved or revealed but there were times through the story where I kept thinking I had missed out on something.

Overall though, I really enjoyed the book. I have been a big fan of Klassen's books ever since she started writing and they have continued to become favorites of mine. What I love best is that they all hold a touch of mystery throughout the story as well as present a good historical read. To be honest, I didn't really see any religious overtones in the book at all. The book reads like a regency novel and includes all the touches of a novel of that time period. Jane Austen fans will love this book and the characters that are in the story. I'll be looking forward to visiting Klassen's world again in the future.

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen is published by Bethany House (2011)

This review copy was provided for a tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

2 comments:

  1. LOVED checking out this review from the house for my fourth book.
    The cover and title intrigue me. Thanks for insight re the plot!

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  2. Then there are books that sweep you into the intricately woven plot, make you feel like a part of the story, and force you to feel sympathy or pity for the broken heroine. The characters pull you into the story, into their world, and bewitch you into never leaving. You must, of course, but you feel like you're dying until you return. The Girl in the Gatehouse, a historical fiction written by Julie Klassen, is undoubtedly one of those books.

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