Review: The Ladies of Ivy Cottage – Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen. The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

It’s hard to believe that this is the final review of the year!  I hope that all of you are enjoying the Christmas season with family, friends, and lots of wonderful books to read throughout the new year!

In The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, Ms. Klassen continues her Tales from Ivy Hill series.  Rachel Ashford and Mercy Grove originally made their appearance in The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, but find themselves as the primary characters of the series’ second novel.  Mercy and her aunt have lived in Ivy Cottage for years, where they house a school for girls.  When Rachel finds herself without a family or home, Mercy invites her to live at the school and help out as best as she can.  However, she soon discovers that she has few skills to earn her keep around the school.  To help make ends meet, Rachel turns her father’s collection of books into the town’s first circulating library, which soon becomes an exciting venture and a prime location for the town’s women and other folks to congregate.  Mercy and Rachel both find themselves in the midst of their community’s most eligible men, but must decide for themselves where their futures lie.

Ms. Klassen returns to the town of Ivy Hill to further develop some of the series’ most interesting characters, while continuing to build on those first introduced in The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill.  Set in Regency-era England, the series features the trials and tribulations of one small village and the many characters who live within it.

Overall, I rather enjoyed reading The Ladies of Ivy Cottage.  Personally, I found that the first novel in the series was quite weighed down by the sheer number of characters and introductions of those individuals that had to be made within the story.  In comparison, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage seems to jump immediately into the main plot, while offering a better-paced storyline.  At 440 pages long, the novel does feel quite long at times.  However, it fits well within Ms. Klassen’s typical writing style and plotting that can be found in her previous works.  She manages to provide satisfactory conclusions to some aspects of the novel, while still leaving quite a few open for the next book in the series.  As I predicted in my review of the series’ first novel, I found that Mercy and Rachel were much stronger and more interesting primary characters in this novel than Jane and Thora in the first.  I am curious where Ms. Klassen will take the series next, as she still has quite a few storylines to conclude within her remaining book.

Fans of Ms. Klassen will enjoy reading The Ladies of Ivy Cottage of Ivy Hill.  Readers who appreciate Regency era stories, Christian historical fiction, and even general historical romance will find the novel to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to Bethany House for the advanced copy of The Ladies of Ivy Cottage!

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