Monday, January 18, 2016

The Painter's Daughter- Julie Klassen

Bethany House, December 1st 2015
468 Pages (Paperback Version)
Sophie Dupont assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. In private, she paints the picturesque north Devon coast, popular with artists--including handsome Wesley Overtree, who seems more interested in Sophie than the landscape.
Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother Wesley's responsibilities. Near the end of his leave, he is sent to find his brother and bring him home. Upon reaching Devonshire, however, Stephen is stunned to learn Wesley has sailed for Italy and left his host's daughter in serious trouble.

Stephen feels duty-bound to act, and strangely protective of the young lady, who somehow seems familiar. Wanting to make some recompense for his own past failings as well as his brother's, Stephen proposes to Miss Dupont. He does not offer love, but marriage "in name only" to save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he fears, she will at least be a respectable widow.

Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie finds herself torn between her first love and this brooding man she barely knows. Dare she wait for Wesley to return? Or should she elope with the captain and pray she doesn't come to regret it?
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Although this was only my third Julie Klassen novel (and I listened to much of it as an audiobook for work), I've come to realize why her books are considered to be some of the best in thier genre.
'The Secret of Pembrooke Park' was good, even if it was a little melodramatic, and some incidents implausible, but I think I almost enjoyed 'The Painter's Daughter' a little more, with its plausible and memorable characters, grappling with real feelings and challenges.
The eccentric former nurse, insecure yet big-hearted younger sister, and (at first) rougish former army officer and companion to Wesley and later Stephen Overtree were some of the most endearing characters.

Also, there was not so much of a 'heavy' emphasis on mystery and danger. The focus of this story was more on family relationships, dynamics, and the secrets in the personal lives of the characters (rather than anything illegal or catastrophic- no wives hidden in attics for instance). I would say, there was more of an emotional intensity. Even the romance was not (for the most part) mushy and silly, and I found I was able to become absorbed in the setting, both geographical and historical.

My main complaint with some Regencies is that the characters are far too 'Americanized' in terms of thier speech and attitudes or mannerisms - and for me it ruins the mood. If I read a Regency I almost don't want to know its written by an American (even if I know it is- if that makes sense). I want it to authentically feel like nineteenth century Britain with characters of the time and place-not using lots of American terms and phrases, modern slang words, adhering to silly stereotypes, or behaving in a totally inappropriate or implausible way for the society in which it the story is set. Mrs Klassen's work, I have found, always delivers in this regard.

Altogether a good, (mostly- there were a couple of non-graphic scenes hinting at consummation of a marriage, for instance) clean read with a solid Christian and redemptive message. Recommended for Regency fans, or those new to the genre as well as established Klassen fans. I personally would like to dip into some of the author's earlier work before her next novel releases in December.

I recieved a free ebook from the publisher via Netgalley for review (as well as listening to the audiobook which I bought myself). I was not required to write a postitive one and all opinions expressed are my own.

 

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