Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Book Review: The Girl in the Gatehouse
The Girl in the Gatehouse
By Julie Klassen
Bethany House, 2011
English, 400 pgs
Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret.
Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans.
The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?
I wanted to like this book. I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen and all things British fiction, but this was just too much like a mash up of books that have already been written. In the end, the author even acknowledges that the reader should notice themes from Austen and Hornblower. Well yeah, she kinda ripped off some things: Navy man loves girl, girl's parents don't approve of girl, Navy man goes to prove himself to her family. At least the author changed things up enough to make it not completely Persuasion, but it's really close.
Mariah struggles to overcome her past mistakes and just keeps on making them. She didn't learn from them at all. She lies to Matthew, she craves his touch...she learned nothing from her mistake which caused her to outcast from her family. I do like the themes of family reconciliation and of trying to make something of yourself to support yourself.
For what was supposed to be "Christian fiction", there wasn't a lot of talk of God and there was a lot of sexual content (albeit not graphic, but it doesn't leave much to the imagination). Personally, I did kind-of enjoy the book even though I'd figured out the plot and twists way to early. It's not one I'd have paid for and it's not one that I'll heartily recommend. It's just okay.
I received a copy of the book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received.