I love Jane Austen novels. I really, really love Jane Austen novels. The problem with loving Jane Austen novels is that eventually you read them all (like, eighteen times) and then have to begin the long and arduous journey of trying to find another author who gives you all the feels that Ms. Austen gives you.
I have tried, Friends. It has thus far been a fruitless venture. An impossible task. A frustrating search. Also, fruitless. And impossible. And frustrating.
But here is what I love so much about being a book reviewer for Bethany House; they introduce me to incredible authors that I otherwise would probably never hear about!
Enter Julie Klassen, i.e. my new Jane Austen!! (Look at the first line on her website: “If you love romance, British accents, Jane Eyre, or anything by Jane Austen, then you and I are soul sisters and I write for you!” She said we are soul sisters, People. I will now forever follow her anywhere. Read more here.)
So, this is the beautiful book that I received in the mail. The Inkeeper of Ivy Hill sat on my nightstand untouched for some time, I’m afraid to say. I have mentioned before, I am not a fan of romance novels. I don’t like the drama of them. So while I steer clear of romances, I do try a new one on occasion, because now and again, I find one that I like. (Such as this one!)
So finally (after literally not being able to resist the cover anymore, because I’m that girl) I picked it up and began to read. And read. And read. And read some more. I read it while I ate. I read it while I prepared Mac and Cheese. I read it while my TV show was on. You guys, this book is so good!
The first thing, as I’ve made fairly obvious already, is that Julie Klassen creates a very beautiful Jane Austen atmosphere. The story is rich, the characters are unique, complicated, relatable and are incredibly developed. The best part? The two main characters…a mother and her daughter-in-law…are strong. Do you have any idea how hard that is to find? If you can find a book with a female main character who loves King Jesus, has her flaws and is also assertive, strong and thinks for herself? Grab onto that author and never let go, Ladies. (Sorry, my closet feminist is showing.)
The book follows two women…Jane and Thora. Thora, the previous owner of The Bell inn, and her daughter-in-law Jane, who inherits The Bell after the death of her husband, Thora’s son. Despite the strained relationship between the two women, Jane turns to Thora for help with the struggling inn. Both women are dealing with their own lives, their own losses, their own struggles; but both women come together to try to save the inn while living in a man’s world.
Bottom Line: Just get it. Seriously. Nothing else that I’ve said here matters. Get it and every single other book that she has ever, ever written.
**A big ‘thank you’ to Bethany House for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book