As you may or may not know, I’m a huge Julie Klassen fan. So far, I’ve reviewed The Silent Governess, The Apothecary’s Daughter, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, and last but not least, The Girl in the Gatehouse . So, as you can see, I’m just slightly into her books. When I heard she was coming out with a new book, The Tutor’s Daughter, can you guess how I acted? (I do admit, the previous four reviews may be a bit of a giveaway.)
Emma Smallwood, the daughter of a widowed father who ran a now-defunct academy, decides to cheer her father up by agreeing to travel with him to the Cornwall coast. There, he is charged with instructing two sons of a baronet in their large manor home atop the cliffs. At first, everything goes according to plan and Emma enjoys being in their new surroundings at the grand estate. However, things soon begin to change and Emma begins to experience strange occurrences. She hears the pianoforte playing in another room, only to find that no one is there. She begins to receive strange notes, and discovers a toy soldier in her room on the floor, even though none of the boys is young enough to play with toy soldiers anymore. Most chillingly, she finds a bloody hand print on her mirror! Meanwhile, the baronet’s two older sons, Henry and Phillip, both have secrets of their own, and they struggle to hide them from Emma. Both have known her since her childhood as they were former pupils at her father’s academy, and one seems to have found a new attraction to her. Can Emma find out who is behind these chilling pranks? What will she make of her new love interest?
I’m always impressed with Klassen’s ability to pay homage to classic literature with her novels while also creating unique and fascinating characters in her own right. The Tutor’s Daughter is definitely an homage to Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, and Pride and Prejudice. Now that’s not to say that those are the only three books that have inspired her work, but the influence that these books had on Klassen is abundantly obvious in this work. Emma herself is a blend of Jane Eyre and Catherine Morland, with a bit of Lizzie and Darcy mixed in. She has the seriousness of Jane, the naive and adventurous spirit of Catherine, and a bit of the close-minded attitude that Darcy and Elizabeth have when forming first impressions about people. It’s not only Emma that bears resemblance to characters of classic literature. Her father is a bit like Mr. Bennet, Henry is a hybrid between Darcy and Mr. Tilney, and the list goes on and on. She weaves characters, themes, and tidbits of plot from some of my favorite novels all while making it feel fresh and new.
I literally could not get enough of this book while I was reading it. The book starts out at a normal pace, and before you realize it, things are happening rather rapidly. Pieces of a puzzle that you didn’t even know existed begin coming together, and you’re left with a tale of intrigue, shipwrecks, smuggling, adventure, and how far the boundaries of love and family can be pushed and tested. Of all of Klassen’s works so far, The Tudor’s Daughter feels like her masterpiece. As much as I’ve loved all of her other books, this one truly shines on a pedestal all by itself. The writing is crisp, clear, and absolutely mesmerizing, taking the reader to Cornwall and to Ebbington Manor itself. This is definitely not a work to miss, and for those of you looking to be transported to a world full of rich characters, suspense, and an epic storyline, this is your book.
5 out of 5 Stars
This is my seventh completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers (2013)
eBook 416 pages