Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage ~ a Bethany House book review

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, Bethany House, book reviews, Christian fiction

Take a step back in time to Regency England with Julie Klassen's latest book: The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. The village of Ivy Hill is full of life in this second book in Klassen's Tales From Ivy Hill series. Visit with Miss Rachel Ashford as she tries to find her new place in the world after her recently departed Father's cousin has arrived to lay his claim to her childhood home. Spend time with Miss Mercy Grove while she tries to gain support for a village school, and join Jane Bell as she continues to grow in her role as village Innkeeper. 

Rachel, Mercy, and Jane have been friends since childhood, but each is facing new challenges as they find their circumstances much different than their childhood dreams imagined. The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is a step back into a slower time in England's history, when coaches brought the mail, and the news, and when gentlewomen in reduced circumstances had to be inventive and a little unconventional if they did not wish to become charity cases. In a time when many gentlewomen married for security over love, these three have chosen differently.

I found the storyline intriguing, and a pleasant step away from the typical Regency-Era historical novels as it focuses more on the everyday lives of the villagers than the quest to procure a husband. This story is well-enough put together to stand on its own, but would probably be enjoyed more if it was read as the sequel it was written to be, coming after Klassen's earlier book: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. I enjoyed the story of Rachel's search to find herself, a gentlewomen brought up to make a suitable wife, a means of financial support. Her determination to do something to keep herself from becoming reliant upon the charity of her friend Mercy Grove sparked a desire in me to cheer her on in her endeavors. The irony of the young woman who did not particularly care for books becoming the village librarian brought me a smile and a few chuckles. How often does God show us in our own lives that the thing we have been avoiding might be the very thing He wants to use to mature us?

Mercy grove runs a small girls' school in her parents' home and considers herself plain and destined for spinsterhood. Her parents live in their other house in London and her mother has not given up on Mercy's chances at matrimony just yet. Mercy loves to teach and enjoys the freedom her small school affords her. She desires to start another school, this one for the poorer boys and girls of the village, so she spends quite a bit of her free time trying to enlist the financial support of the wealthier members of the village and surrounding countryside. Mercy is Rachel's number one cheerleader in her quest to open and run a circulating library with the books Rachel's father had left her in his will. As Mercy introduces Rachel to her friends in the village's Ladies Tea and Knitting Society, Rachel begins to believe that maybe, just maybe, there might be hope for her yet. This eccentric group of the village's businesswomen offer ideas and support as Rachel works on her fledgling plans for the library.

The opening of Rachel's library brings many visitors to Ivy Cottage, especially several of the village's single men. Both Mercy and Rachel must deal with the unusualness of this in their own ways. As their ventures grow, so does their friendship. Their friend Jane Bell owns the local inn, having inherited it from her deceased husband John. The three women rely upon each other, and learn a deeper reliance upon God as their lives unfold.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage has a cast of diverse supporting characters, and the ending of this story, while satisfying, leaves open a door to one or more sequels in the series. Overall this was an enjoyable read. It is not a quick read, but encourages you to linger at that slower, earlier pace of life - when each day mattered, and you realized it.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is available from Bethany House in paperback, hardcover or E-Book editions.

To learn more about author Julie Klassen, visit her website.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like a good that I would enjoy. I wonder if I can find a review copy anywhere...