Author: Julie Klassen/Publisher: Bethany House (2012)/Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance/Page Count: 409
Primarily set amidst the majestic cliffs of Cornwall, UK, Julie Klassen’s “The Tutor’s Daughter” recounts the engaging Regency-era tale of bright, middle-class Emma Smallwood and irksome Henry Weston, son of a baronet.
As the book opens, the reader finds Emma and her father on the brink of complete financial ruin–a crisis Emma is desperately striving to avert. The author postpones the “present-day” encounter between the hero and heroine of the story for several chapters, but she reveals the underlying conflict between the protagonists through a series of brief flashbacks. Emma loathes Henry, who attended her father’s boarding school in adolescence, because he subjected her to mean-spirited pranks.
When the Westons invite the Smallwoods to tutor Henry’s younger brothers at Ebbington Manor, their sprawling Cornwall estate, Emma is understandably conflicted. Because her father insists he’d relish the change of scenery–and accepting the offer would address their financial woes for a time, however–Emma acquiesces. Little does she realize that residency at Ebbington will be fraught with physical, mental and emotional challenges she can’t even begin to imagine–the awkward encounters with Henry least among them.
Though she writes inspirational historical romances, Ms. Klassen’s writing style prompts inevitable comparisons to the works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. The author never stoops to mere imitation of her brilliant Regency-era predecessors, however. Instead, she pays respectful and–dare I say–reverent homage to the indisputable masters of the genre.
“The Tutor’s Daughter” is a five-star read. It stands on its own as a remarkable achievement in romance fiction. Ms. Klassen paints flawed, interesting, and multidimensional characters. She writes intricately woven primary and secondary plots and conveys the goals, motivations and internal and external conflicts of even lesser characters in a convincing, absorbing manner. The author also maintains a heightened level of tension throughout what might easily have become a plodding four-hundred-page read. Above all, however, Ms. Klassen demonstrates an uncanny ability to elicit a profound emotional response from the reader. (One of the most poignant scenes in “The Tutor’s Daughter” literally reduced me to tears: I’ve rarely had such an experience while reading a work of fiction.) I highly recommend this book to fans of inspirational romance.
So, tell me: Have you read “The Tutor’s Daughter?” What did you think? Have you read any of Ms. Klassen’s other works? Have you ever read a work of fiction that moved you to tears or elicited some other deep emotional response? Please leave your comments below. Blessings!