4 January 2013

Review: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

It is 1816, and Emma Smallwood accompanies her father to Ebbington Manor in Cornwall, where he is to act as tutor for a year for Sir Giles Weston's twin teenage sons, to prepare them for Oxford. Emma has fond memories of their brother, Phillip, attending Smallwood Academy, her father's small Devonshire boarding school, but her memories of Henry, the oldest Weston brother, are less pleasant.

Their arrival at the manor is unwelcoming, but Emma is soon befriended by Miss Lizzie Henshaw, who is the teenage ward of Lady Weston. She also meets Henry again, and finds him as intimidating as an adult as he was when he attended her father’s school. There is an air of mystery about Ebbington. Emma hears music at night when others say no one was playing. She smells a masculine scent outside her room, and finds a tin soldier on her floor. People stop their conversations when she comes near, as though they have something to hide. And she has been warned to stay out of the north wing of the house.

As with all the Julie Klassen books I have read, The Tutor's Daughter is beautifully written and impeccably researched, with likeable yet flawed characters. What I most admire about her is her ability to find a unique angle for her Regency stories, whether it is the unwed mother (Lady of Milkweed Manor), the woman working in a profession that is closed to females (The Apothecary's Daughter) or the woman who has made a mistake and is trying to rebuild her life (The Girl in the Gatehouse). This time, it is the bluestocking in an area that was well-known for shipwrecks and free traders.

Overall, The Tutor's Daughter is an excellent Christian Regency with a dash of Jane Eyre, a sprinkle of Pride and Prejudice and a touch of gothic romance a la Mrs Radcliffe and The Mysteries of Udolpho (which is quoted in a chapter headings, along with other period literature). Recommended.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Julie Klassen at her website.

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