April 9, 2011

Book Review - The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

The Girl in the Gatehouse
by Julie Klassen

Read it in two days!  That’s a testament to the intriguing plot twists and turns that Julie Klassen incorporates in her newest novel. 
Mariah Aubrey, banished from her father’s house over an indiscretion regarding a man, is sent to live in the gatehouse of her Aunt Francesca’s estate, Windrush.  After Francesca's death, her irresponsible step-son Hugh, makes life uncomfortable for Mariah.  Enter Captain Matthew Bryant, a naval man with a past he wants to forget, but eager to rent Windrush to impress a wealthy woman who previously scorned him.  Both Mariah and the captain need acceptance from families who have rejected them and forgiveness for past mistakes.  Klassen adds interest to the relationships at Windrush by giving more minor characters intriguing pasts that are slowly revealed – Martin, the manservant with the hook arm; Amy and Agnes Merryweather, occupants of the poorhouse; Prince, who walks the poorhouse roof with a spyglass and so many more. 

The author presents a society of the early 1800s that was so concerned with propriety and reputation that it often was too unforgiving, unlike our Heavenly Father who can forgive all, as some characters express.  I appreciated the snippets of the late Francesca’s journals that are included to help reveal past events and the parts of Mariah’s writings that give the reader an insight not only to her experiences, but also to the societal mores of the time. 

I enjoyed Klassen’s use of various authors’ quotes at the beginning of each chapter to either foreshadow events or cast commentary on what was happening.  Even though the finale might be surmised early on and the plot is tied up maybe a little too neatly, it is a wonderful read to get there.

**This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers for my review.  The opinions expressed are solely my own.

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