Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Julie Klassen's Lady of Milkweed Manor ~ Reviewed

Lady of Milkweed Manor
By Julie Klassen
Bethany House January 2008
ISBN 978-0-7642-0479-1

Charlotte Lamb, a fallen vicar’s daughter, hopes to secret herself away in London’s Milkweed Manor. But once there, she is mortified to find herself in the care of a former suitor, a physician whom her father long ago rejected as unsuitable—a man who now hides secrets of his own. Both are determined, with God’s help, to protect those they love. But neither could guess the depth of sacrifice that will be required of them.

Drawn from fascinating research about the secret lives of women in the nineteenth century, Lady of Milkweed Manor is a moving romantic drama about the redemption of past failings and the beauty of sacrificial love.

It’s a rare book that forces me to press the pause button on my life and simply devour the story—this is one such book. Well-written, emotionally charged, unexpected plot twists, and an amazing balance of foreshadowing with backstory all lend to a remarkable debut novel by author Julie Klassen. The tension builds throughout and keeps the reader guessing until the last page.

Klassen has captured the best of Austen and Brontë. There are complex relationships and plenty of snooty nobility. The ambiance is generally foreboding and ominous which sets quite a gothic stage. This mixture combines into a haunting quality, leaving the characters on the mind of the reader days after the story has been finished.

The only thing I thought was a bit overdone were the references to milkweeds. Interesting, yes. Educational, admitted. But I found myself skipping over the quotes at the beginning of each chapter since the story engrossed me so much more. A small quarrel to be sure, but thought it should be mentioned.

Overall this is a fantastic narrative that will draw you into the era and wreak havoc with your emotions. Kudos to Bethany House for taking on this new author. I’ll be sure to look for future titles by Julie Klassen. Once you’ve read Lady of Milkweed Manor, I’ve no doubt you’ll be anxious for more as well.

Review by: Michelle Griep
And here's a bonus review from Michelle Sutton:
This is truly one of the most emotionally gripping novels I've ever read and it is sure to make my best of 2008 list. My heart pounded with anticipation so many times I lost count. Just when I thought I knew what would happen next, something different took place. The author did an amazing job pulling the reader into Charlotte's life. I longed for her happiness. And there were so many powerful subplots that my head is still swimming with amazement, and my heart is still gripped by this strangely sad, yet hopeful and deeply romantic tale of love and loss, of sacrifice and reward. Bottom line...This story is so full of passion that it will make your heart sing.
Best of all, Lady of Milkweed Manor shows in a tangible and emotionally gratifying way how all things do work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. The element of sacrificial love in this poignant novel is so incredibly powerful that it will stick with me for years to come. I am so impressed with this author's "voice" and her ability to draw my heart into a story that I plan to read every books she pens from this day forward. I highly recommend this story. If you take my advice, you'll see why.

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