What can a widow do in Regency England when she is suddenly left with an Inn to upkeep and no practical experience to do it? Jane Bell was raised a lady, but after a disappointment in love, marries innkeeper John Bell. After John’s untimely death, Jane has been left with his Inn and basically lives in denial for a year after his death. When it becomes clear that the inn will soon be doomed without action, Jane rises to the occasion. There to help her is her mother-in-law, gruff but effectively Thora, and her brother-in-law, Patrick. The inn is the center of their small village, Ivy Hill, as Jane soon learns, the rise and fall of the Inn will affect the livelihoods of many beyond the immediate Bell family. Will Jane be able to save the Inn?
I love that The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is a novel about an entire village with many intriguing characters and storylines. With the story starting after John’s death, there are many small mysteries to figure out. Why are Jane and Rachel no longer friends and what does it have to do with Sir Timothy? Why did John take out a large loan endangering the Inn with no trail on where the money actually went? Why was John gone the day of his death? Who is Gabriel Locke and why did he appear after John’s death willing to work for such a small salary? I found the characters compelling and multi-layered. For example, when Thora comes back to town and is critical to Jane, the reader would think that she is going to be a one-dimensional evil mother-in-law. In fact, she is a compelling multi-dimensional character. Thora has lost her beloved son and also the rights to the Inn. The Inn was her family inn that went to her husband upon marriage, to her son upon her husband’s death, and now to her son’s widow at his death. She has no rights to it or its future, but she loves it. Although she is 51, Thora has more than one man trying to woe her and I LOVED it.
Rachel Ashford was once Jane’s friend. She was disappointed in love and takes care of her ailing father. He has lost his fortune and his estate is entailed away to a distant cousin. Upon his death, Rachel is left in a quandary. What does a single youngish gentlewoman do when she is thrust alone amongst the world? Luckily she has her friend Mercy who runs has faced a similar predicament and runs a gentile school to survive. Mercy has gathered together a group of the working women of Ivy Hill in a knitting club where they can talk about problems they face as women trying to run a business. Jane Bell realizes from the club that she needs to support other women and that there is support for her across the village.
The theme of women trying to make it in a man’s world is prevalent throughout the novel. I thought it was very intriguing and it really made me think about how hard it was to make it if you were without a husband or father figure in your life. I loved all of the characters in the village and the storyline was very engaging. I also loved that there was a map of the village at the start so you could visualize where various locations were around town.
I loved the following quote as it echoed Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice:
“I realize I possess not those happy manners to ensure my making friends easily.”
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is the first in a planned series. I can’t wait to read more in this series. There is much more to this story and I want to spend more time with these characters.
Overall, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is a wonderfully engaging novel full of intriguing characters and storylines. I highly recommend it and can’t wait for more in the series!
Book Source: Review Copy from Bethany House. Thank-you!
The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.
Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?
As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?
Visit talesfromivyhill.com to find a map of the village, character profiles, a book giveaway, and more!
JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Her books have been honored with the Christy Award for Historical Romance, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Midwest Book Award, among others. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill Blog Tour Schedule
December 5: Author Q&A on Pemberley to Milton
December 6: Excerpt on My Love for Jane Austen
December 8: Review on Laura's Reviews
December 9: Book Spotlight on More Agreeably Engaged
December 10: Review on A Bookish Way of Life
December 11: Review and Excerpt on Delighted Reader Book Reviews
December 12: British Show Inspiration Guest Post on Living Read Girl
December 13: Historical Background Guest Post on English Historical Fiction Authors
December 14: Review on Calico Critic
December 15: Excerpt on So Little Time
December 16: Review and Author Q&A on My Jane Austen Book Club
December 17: Review on Just Jane 1813
December 18: Excerpt on Babblings of a Book Worm
December 19: Review on Austenesque Reviews
December 20: Guest Post on Jane Austen in Vermont
December 21: Review on Luxury Reading
Be sure to enter the giveaway before you leave—the winner will receive a $20 Teavana gift card and a package of four inspirational British romances from four different eras (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell, The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Not by Sight by Kate Breslin). The winner will be notified on December 22.
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