Tales From Ivy Hill #1
WELCOME TO THE ENGLISH VILLAGE OF IVY HILL,
WHERE FRIENDSHIPS THRIVE, ROMANCE BLOSSOMS,
AND MYSTERIES AWAIT . . .
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?
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There's really not much more delightful to me than reading a series set in a small village that revolves around ordinary people living their everyday lives. If you've read Jan Karon's Mitford series or Miss Read's Fairacre Chronicles you know exactly what I am talking about.
To say that I was excited to get my hands on Julie Klassen's first installment in the Tales From Ivy Hill series is an understatement. I have long enjoyed Julie's historical fiction books and I knew that she would be the perfect author to give us a new village and people to love. By the end of the book I felt as if I had made new acquaintances and looked forward to getting to know each of them better.
The book starts with one of my favorite things . . . a map of the village! I love being able to picture the layout as the story progresses. When we first dip into the story we meet Jane Bell who is a recent widow and has suddenly and unexpectedly become the new innkeeper for The Bell. Much to her dismay her late husband left the coaching inn for her to run. The problem lies in the fact that before this Jane's husband insisted that Jane lead a life of a genteel lady and as such she really had very little to do with the inn.
The next central figure that we are introduced to is Thora Bell. She's Jane's mother-in-law and the two of them have a very strained relationship. The Bell coaching inn has been in Thora's family for generations so Thora is a bit territorial when it comes to all things concerning the inn. The problem is that the decisions are no longer hers to make.
There are other friends and family that we meet but I would say that this installment centers around these two women. I found the storyline to be very easy to relate to. Even the best of daughter-in-law and mother-in-law relationships have a tension about them. Jane and Thora are leary of each other but they also need each other. Watching the barriers come down and the trust factor go up was a delight.
As I said earlier this is a gentle read but it does have a bit of mystery involved. I'm delighted to say that I was completely wrong about who was behind the deception. In this case it was so nice to be wrong! There's a bit of everything to entice the reader. There's relationship issues, both romantic and platonic, there's mystery, and there's also some very intriguing history. You just can't go wrong with this read.
Let me close with my favorite quote from the book. It comes from Mercy, a dear friend of Jane's, and it comes at the beginning of the book but it sets the tone for the rest of the story.
"Manage the inn, Jane; save it. Have a mission in life. Discover that work worth doing is about more than profit and toil. It's about using the gifts and ability you've been given to serve your fellow man and please your Maker." (pg. 130)
Other Reviews For This Author
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
The Tutor's Daughter
The Painter's Daughter
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