Update: Winner of this sweet story is Tracy! I’ll be emailing you soon!
“When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”~~Psalm 17:10
This verse kept running through my mind as I read Julie Klassen’s historical novel, The Girl in the Gatehouse. In the story, Mariah Aubrey stumbles into disgrace and, as a result, is harshly rejected by her autocratic father. He banishes his heartbroken daughter from their home—with only a brief good-bye for her mother and sister—and hides her away in a relative’s gatehouse. It is there, in a quiet corner of a country estate, which happens to be across the street from the poorhouse, that she builds a new family from the eccentric and endearing characters who come her way—servants, orphans, outcasts, and even a handsome Navy captain.
In writing this story, Julie Klassen was inspired by Jane Austen as she created her main character, premise, and a few scenes, and I know many of you are Jane Austen fans. However, I sometimes find an Austen novel a bit cutting in its treatment of a character’s weaknesses. Also, it seems to me that Austen often portrays the secondary characters as either scoundrels or fools.
So the tone of The Girl in the Gatehouse reminded me more of one of my best-loved authors: Louisa May Alcott. Mariah is a secret author, like Jo March in Little Women. She is rejected by proper society, like Phoebe from Rose in Bloom. Mariah and her friends perform the theatricals she has written, as do Jo March and her sisters. And the gatehouse world is peopled by unconventional folks who charm and entertain—as are Louisa May Alcott’s warm, homey novels.
I loved how Mariah was pulled into the lives of the poorhouse inhabitants and soon became enmeshed in their troubles more than her own. And I would have a difficult time choosing a favorite out of the droll characters she comes to love. Would it be the tough old sailor who uses his spyglass to look into her garden from the roof of the poorhouse? Or maybe the boys who stretch a rope across the road to catch a girl for kissing Friday? Perhaps sweet Miss Amy with her love of scarlet knitting thread and gentle words of wisdom . . .
And since I’m a suspense lover, any novel that combines charming characters, an inspirational thread, dashes of romance, plus a mystery will always win me over. I enjoyed piecing together the mystery along with Mariah and was surprised at how—without any dead bodies to be found or deranged killers on the loose—it kept me turning pages.
Did you also read and review The Girl in the Gatehouse? If so, link up your review here at Edgy Inspirational Romance.
I’m always happy to find a modern-day novelist who carries on the tradition of great authors from the past. How about you? Who are your favorite authors from years gone by, and who have you found to bring you similar stories today? I’d love for you to share any suggestions with me in the comments section.
Follow this link to view Julie Klassen’s Amazon Author’s Page so you can pick up this book or one of her other novels. The paperback versions of her books are $5 and $6. The Girl in the Gatehouse is $7.68 for your Kindle.
***Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.
Christian Fiction Book Club News: The next book club meeting is on May 21st to discuss the book Words by Ginny Yttrup. Joy, who began this online book club, has the whole schedule listed in this post. I’ve read two of the upcoming novels–Digitalis and The Preacher’s Bride–and they were GREAT!!
Here’s the book blurb for Words: Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary. Sierra Dawn is thirty-four and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself. Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word-Jesus Christ. You can read the reviews and purchase the book at this link.
And, finally, the Giveaway: I’m giving away my copy of The Girl in the Gatehouse to one fortunate reader! All you have to do is let me know that you wish to be included in the drawing when you comment. I’ll announce the winner on Monday!