The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.
Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora’s wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them–and her future–in a different light.
With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love?
**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**
True to her style, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is full of that Austen-esque feeling of England that Klassen so adeptly writes. This novel transported me to a quaint little village in 1820’s England… where mail coaches transported passengers and towns were filled with people who knew everyone’s comings and goings.
I was excited to learn that Julie Klassen was beginning a series of books. And while, I found this book to be a bit slow compared to many of her other novels, I ended up really enjoying it. It was a leisurely book to read. I never felt rushed to move through it, but rather, like I was invited to visit Ivy Hill and stay as long as I liked. At times I was perhaps a bit bored and looking back, I don’t feel like there was a major overarching plot driving this story. Rather, it was a handful of different stories woven together. But, by the time I reached the end of this novel, I was a bit sad to see the remaining pages dwindle. So, I will be looking forward to the next book in this series.
If you enjoyed historical fiction, particularly those that would be set in a similar time as Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels, this just might be the start of a new series you may enjoy as well.
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