Emma Smallwood has always been something of a prim and proper "bluestocking." Raised in a scholarly home where her father ran a small boarding school for boys, Emma naturally tended toward bookishness, and since her mother's death she has helped her father with his teaching duties. When the opportunity arises for Mr. Smallwood to move to Cornwall for a year, to tutor the younger brothers of some former pupils, Emma goes along, albeit with some trepidation. Years ago, she had quite a strong affection and admiration for one of those pupils, Philip Weston. But his older brother, Henry, was the bane of her existence! Of course, they are all much older now, and perhaps neither Henry nor Philip even still reside at their father's home, Ebbington Manor.
From the time of their arrival and rather uncertain welcome at Ebbington, Emma is aware that something seems amiss. Strange nighttime happenings, mysterious music, and the odd behavior of the Weston family all serve to reinforce this belief. As time goes by and the mystery deepens, Emma finds herself being drawn to one of the Weston brothers . . . but not to the one she expects. When danger threatens Emma's life, whom can she turn to for help?
The Tutor's Daughter was my first Julie Klassen novel, and I really enjoyed it. The setting on the Cornwall coast was beautifully described, as was the manor house (made me think of Pemberley!) and its surroundings. I also loved Emma and could relate to her in many ways, although I am nowhere near as neat and orderly! :) The other characters were also well-developed, my favorites being Henry Weston and Emma's Aunt Jane. The elements of suspense helped move the story along, and kept my interest to the end. One of the things I appreciated the most was the spiritual aspect of the story. It seemed a bit deeper than much of today's Christian fiction, without sounding preachy. I liked the emphasis on trusting God and letting Him be in control.
I give The Tutor's Daughter 5 out of 5 stars, and look forward to reading more of Julie Klassen's work!
**I received a review copy of this book from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own.