It’s been a while since I’ve shared a good book review here on the blog. But one of my creative outlets is reading, and I know through emails and chats with many of you that it’s the same for you! I have a hard time switching my brain off at night and relaxing before bed. But a good novel will always help me unwind at the end of the day. And of course, when they’re really good, I have a hard time putting them down in the middle of the day too.
I’ve recently finished a few books that I’ll share here on the blog, but today I want to recommend The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen. I’ve been a big fan of this author for many years and have shared my thoughts about several of her novels here on the blog. I received a copy of this one for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review, so I’m going to let you in on my thoughts. I’m also linking to Amazon (affiliate) in case you’d like to purchase a copy of this book either paperback, kindle, hardcover, and even Audible.
First though, a little about the book from the publisher:
Welcome to the English village of Ivy Hill, where friendships thrive, romance blossoms, and mysteries await. . . .
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?
Sounds intriguing doesn’t it! And it is. This is the first in a series of books called Tales from Ivy Hill, a Christian historical fiction series.
While it’s not my favorite book by Julie Klassen, I enjoyed it. In my opinion it doesn’t have many peaks or twists in the storyline, and it’s a rather slow and steady read. But that’s not really a bad thing. I love any book that shows the strength of women in the midst of adversity. The story is mostly about the two main women, Thora and her daughter-in-law Jane, and how each has a role in helping run the coaching inn. At first Jane is very clueless and has no backbone, or even desire to learn to run the coaching in. But that’s alright because Thora has enough for both of them it seems. Eventually Jane does decide to step up the the plate and try to give it a go. I was definitely rooting for her to make it work.
This novel doesn’t have the same suspense or romance as past books by Julie Klassen. I’m hoping that those will come later in the series of books, and maybe the readers will be able to look back and have that “Ah ha!” moment. I was a little disappointed that there are some cliffhangers at the end. Not everything is wrapped up in a pretty bow and resolved by the time you’re finished. That does leave you wanting to read more in the next book, which I think is the point.
Overall, I’d probably leave this one at 3 stars.
Knowing Julie Klassen, she’s going to surprise us when the series is all said and done, and this rating may come up.
If you love daydreaming of times past, beautiful landscape, and a host of Regency era characters, then this book is one for you to read.