The Ladies of Ivy Cottage
Bethany House Publishers, 2017
The charming hamlet of Ivy Hill is home to three friends, all gentlewomen of reduced circumstances. Mercy Grove finds fulfillment running a small girls school in Ivy Cottage, but her mother is not content to watch her daughter become a spinster and issues her an ultimatum that leaves Mercy to choose between two disagreeable options.
Rachel Ashford is recently displaced from her childhood home, which was inherited by a distant cousin upon her father’s passing. She now resides with Mercy and her aunt at Ivy Cottage, helping with the school where she can, but Rachel knows she must have some means to support herself in the long run. With the books her father left her, she opens a subscription library while she decides whether to accept a marriage proposal from a man she cares for only as a friend. Things only get more complicated when an old flame begins to show renewed interest, and when several anonymous book donations turn into mysteries that will bring both pain and healing when the truth is revealed.
Widow Jane Bell fell from society’s grace when she chose to marry an innkeeper instead of a baron. Though she never regretted that choice, there are painful parts of her past that threaten to undermine the chances she might have at a new love. Jane struggles to move past her grief and step into the next phase of her life.
This post contains affiliate links. Read more about that here. Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is the charming sequel to The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, which I read and reviewed last year. I have been looking forward to this latest book since then and it did not disappoint. There are threads of romance, friendship, faith, and forgiveness woven throughout the story that really draw you in. And then when a couple of mysteries cropped up I was really hooked.
There are two things that I really like about Julie Klassen’s novels that are prominently displayed in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. One is that she is the master of the un-obvious romance. Her heroines almost always have several suitors to choose from, and it’s never glaringly obvious whom she will choose at the beginning of the story. This gives the reader the opportunity to watch the characters grow in their relationships and self-awareness slowly, instead of jumping into whirlwind romances. Not that I have anything against love-at-first-sight stories, but the more slowly developing ones are a nice change of pace.
The second thing I like is that her female protagonists are not afraid to support themselves. Though they were raised as gentlewomen, Mercy now runs a girls school with her spinster aunt, Rachel is attempting to open a library, and Jane runs the inn her late husband left to her. While none of those are shameful professions for a woman, any employment is less than ideal in the eyes of genteel society. But each of them stands by her convictions in choosing whether to marry or seek fulfillment in other areas.
I am assuming there will be a third book in this series since there are few loose ends that need to be tied up with several characters at the end of this book, and I will definitely be picking it up when it comes out. Of course, that’s not really that surprising since I’ve read and loved all of Julie Klassen’s books, but still… hopefully I can wait for a whole year since I anticipate it will probably be released around December of 2018.