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?
(excerpt from back of book)
My least favourite part of Julie Klassen's writing is that it took me so long to discover it. Hands down, Klassen has quickly risen to become my favourite historical fiction author and I've yet to be disappointed by her work.
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill promised to be interesting from the get go as it marks Klassen's first foray into the realm of a serial. I was a little concerned that by spreading her scope and characters further she would lose some of the charm and satisfaction within her stories but, if book 1 is any indication, Klassen's writing is just as polished within a series as in her excellent stand alones.
With Ivy Hill, there was a definite sense of world building.
While Jane was the central figure due to her role of import within the Inn, there was an underlying feel that her personal story would come into greater evidence as the series progresses.
That said, Thora's story line was a wonderful alternative to give readers a more rounded out tale and a strong plot to follow amidst all the other set ups that will be further teased out in book 2 (and there are certainly a number to choose from).
I'm honestly excited to see where Klassen is going to take this series considering all the wonderful ways she's built the story up. The teasings of character like Locke, Rachel, Sir Timothy, Drake, and Mercy provided a wonderful crew that feel like they need an entire village (and series) to contain them. While Klassen was careful not to overstep a book, she was equally careful not to cripple a character's personality and interest in favour of separating story.
The central story lines of this particular book revolving around the Inn, Jane's widowhood, and Thora were all satisfyingly well thought out and I adore how Klassen captures the essence of her era capturing issues that would have faced the characters personally and culturally.
5 out of 5 stars (and a reader eager for book 2!)
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."