Emma Smallwood has spent her life helping at her father’s school. Now, with enrollment dwindling and her father mourning the passing of her mother, Emma finds herself reaching out to the father of former pupils in order to gain new students to the school. A return letter brings an intriguing offer. Does Emma have the courage to step outside of what she’s known to bring new adventures to her life?
The Tutor’s Daughter
by Julie Klassen
In an effort to bring additional students to her father’s boarding school, Emma writes to the father of former pupils, a baronet, who has remarried and now has two young sons. The response she receives is a surprising one. As his wife is loathe to allow her sons to leave home, Sir Giles Weston offers double the rate for them to come to Ebbington Manor to teach them.
She initially questions the rash decision when she remembers her relationship with the older Weston sons-Phillip and Henry. Phillip she remembers with fondness. He was always kind to her when he was a student. On the other hand, Henry, the elder of the two, made it a point to torment her, as young boys are wont to do.
Emma and her father are met with surprise upon their arrival at the Weston’s home, Sir Giles having forgotten to tell his family that they were coming. This would be only the first of many surprising events that happen while they stay with the Weston’s. Strange happenings at night, a piano forte that seemingly plays itself, and many secrets exist in the Weston household. And in the midst of this, love blossoming from an unlikely place.
Having read another of Klassen’s novels before, I looked forward to reading this one. I, like Klassen, am a fan of Regency Period writing. As such, I enjoy the intent in Klassen’s writing. She really does make an effort to create novels in the fashion of the period, working to stay true to that time.
As for this novel in particular, I did enjoy the read the first time through. That is related entirely to the story. I loved the premise and what she was trying to write, as well as the suspense she worked to create and keep throughout the story. Klassen created a story that kept moving forward for me through most parts. While there were small lulls in the action and story moving forward, they weren’t cumbersome and didn’t impact the overall experience of reading for me.
That being said, Emma Smallwood is not one of my favorite female characters. I very much like the initiative she takes at the start of the novel, in writing to the Westons. However, after that point, she seems to be one who allows the events around them to happen to her, as opposed to actively working to be part of the action. I had higher hopes for her development as a character.
Additionally, regarding format, I really didn’t care for what seemed to be random quotes from other novels. I kept going back to see how those quotes related to the material around them. They seemed to be put into the novel to add credibility to Klassen’s work. Frankly, she doesn’t need it. Her work can stand on its own, and the extra quotes were cumbersome and offputting.
Overall though, I did enjoy the novel and would read it again. Klassen is dedicated to her craft and creating the world around her characters, which is something I can appreciate as a reader. The novel is a quick read and does have some points that are surprising and unexpected. It’s definitely one that’s work a look.
Robin Gwaro is a founding book review blogger at Bookgateway.com and has generously supplied this review. She describes herself as “a woman just trying to keep it all together. Most days, I have the juggling act down! Others, I have the broom and dustpan handy to clean up the mess. My life is not always easy, it is not always neat, but it is always worth every minute!” Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.