Monday, December 5, 2016

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

Widow Jane Bell had absolutely nothing to do with the running of her husband's inn in the small village of Ivy Hill.  When her year of mourning has passed, however, she realizes that not only is The Bell suffering financially, but her husband had taken out a large loan before his death that the local bank is demanding be repaid immediately.  In order to save her own livelihood and those of many of the local townspeople, she turns to her prickly mother-in-law for advice.  Can Thora and Jane look past old wounds and misunderstandings to turn The Bell around, or will Jane's innovative changes and inexperience bring around its destruction?

Julie Klassen, with her typical talent for story-telling, takes readers on a charming journey to Wiltshire in The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill.  As the first installment in Klassen's very first series-- Tales from Ivy Hill-- the book takes a while to get interesting.  Klassen spends most of the first third of the novel introducing a whole host of characters, and I couldn't quite figure out who I should care most about.  Unlike most of Klassen's works, this one didn't immediately grab and keep my attention until the very last page, and it honestly took an unusual amount of time for me to feel engaged.  Once I was about half-way through, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the read and am looking forward to any subsequent installments.

The village of Ivy Hill and its residents are charming, lovely, and believable.  As per tradition, Klassen deftly has several of her characters recite quotes from British Regency classics.  This work, though, lacks any of the gothic mystery and suspense that marks many of my favorite Klassen novels.  Even worse, there was a stark lack of swoon-worthy romance in this particular attempt.  Even so, as a devoted Klassen fan I will anxiously await the next opportunity to visit Ivy Hill, and hope that since the setting and characters have been well established, the story itself can progress a bit more quickly next time, and end on a more satisfying note.

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

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