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English Ivy

English Ivy

4.8 6
by Catherine Palmer

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Promised to one . . .

Betrothed to another . . .

Swept away by the one man she can never have

On the eve of her twenty-first birthday, Ivy Bowden has much to anticipate. Engaged to be married to the man her father has chosen for her, Ivy dreams of a secure, contented future.

But when she finds herself in the arms of the mysterious Colin Richmond, recently


Promised to one . . .

Betrothed to another . . .

Swept away by the one man she can never have

On the eve of her twenty-first birthday, Ivy Bowden has much to anticipate. Engaged to be married to the man her father has chosen for her, Ivy dreams of a secure, contented future.

But when she finds herself in the arms of the mysterious Colin Richmond, recently returned from India, her world is thrown into complete disarray. Nothing is as it should be, and suddenly Ivy’s future—even her very identity—is in question.

Ivy must choose to submit to her family’s choice, follow the leading of her willful heart . . . or obey her Father’s will.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
On the heels of Palmer's soul-searching, competent autobiographical novel, The Happy Room, comes this unsatisfying, lightweight romance set in rural England in the early 19th century. Pretty, bookish Ivy Bowden is pledged by her adoptive father to marry the despicable Nigel Creeve. When Ivy and her three young cousins are robbed en route to the local village on an errand, Ivy is rescued by the dashing Colin Richmond, newly arrived from India. While she recuperates at his home, Colin informs Ivy of her true parentage and the conditions surrounding her lavish inheritance. Ivy must choose among three men: a worthless fop, John Frith; her betrothed, Nigel; or her true love, Colin. In their romantic confusion, Ivy and Colin turn to often-bewildering Scriptures both to find God's will for their lives and to determine how to keep Ivy's beloved adoptive family from financial ruin. From a less talented writer, this trite tale might be passable, but it's a major disappointment that Palmer, a Christy Award-winning author of 30 books, who possesses all the tools to produce novels of substance, has taken this distressing step backward. It's not wholly bad; her writing is basically sound (apart from some exhausting attempts at Yorkshire dialect), and her descriptions often superb. However, at a time when Christian fiction fans are clamoring for depth in their novels, this offering serves only as an escapist romance for those readers content to wade in the shallow end of the inspirational literary pool. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.92(w) x 8.84(h) x 0.93(d)

Read an Excerpt

English Ivy

By Catherine Palmer

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2002 Catherine Palmer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0842319271

Chapter One

Brooking House, near the village of Otley Yorkshire, England, 1815

"At last," Ivy Bowden said to her three younger sisters as she placed the carefully penned instructions in her small beaded handbag. The printer in Otley would have plenty of time to prepare the invitations. In a few short months, she would celebrate her twenty-first birthday with a ball. By Christmas she would be wedded. Wishing for greater peace than she felt, she let out a deep breath. "And so-all is settled, and all is well."

"I should not say such a thing if I were to marry Nigel Creeve." Madeline gave a shudder. "And to have to live in Leeds in the same house with old Mr. Creeve and his wife. The pair of them give me nightmares."

"Maddie, you must not look on the dim side of things." Ivy tied her bonnet ribbons and wrapped a green wool shawl around her shoulders. "Nigel Creeve is a gentleman of the first order, and I am determined to be content with the arrangement."

"I think his eyes look like currants," said Clementine. At eight years, she was the youngest of the four. "They are small and black, and they sit in his head like two little raisins in a hot cross bun."

"Clemma, please!" Ivy laughed in spite of herself at the description of her intended husband. "How can you say such a thing? Nigel Creeve's eyes are perfectly ordinary."

"Indeed they are," said Madeline. "He has the most ordinary eyes I have ever seen."

"Oh, for mercy's sake, do come along-all of you-or I shall miss the mail coach altogether."

"But, Ivy, I cannot wear this bonnet!" Caroline, younger than Ivy by only eighteen months, had been sorting through the hat rack in the hall. "I must have my blue one. This one looks so ill on me."

"Nothing looks ill on you, Caroline dearest, and you know it. You are by far the loveliest of us all. Indeed, you will put us to shame in the village-blue bonnet or not."

"Oh dear!"

Caroline's lament drifted on the breeze as the four sisters hurried out of the house and into a fine spring morning. An early rain had washed away yesterday's gray clouds and left the sky the color of a robin's egg. The hedgerows were laced with spiders' webs, each tiny strand hung with a row of glistening dewdrops. Wild bluebells, yellow archangel, and white stitchwort had sprung up along the lane, and a pair of linnets were hard at work building a nest in the brambles and honey-suckle. It was, Ivy realized, the perfect day for the two-mile walk to Otley.

An ancient marketplace that had grown slowly into a village with cobbled streets and houses built of gray stone, Otley slumbered on the banks of the river Wharfe. Villagers proudly traced their history to the mid-eighth century, when "Otta" made his lea, or clearing, in the forest. No one was quite sure who Otta was or where he had come from, but it was enough to know there had been a beginning.

Ivy had lived all her life in nearby Brooking House, the ancestral home of the Bowden family. When the weather was fine-and sometimes when it was not-she took great pleasure in roaming the dales and fells that blanketed this rural triangle between the towns of Leeds, Harrogate, and Bradford. Countless streams and secret waterfalls provided perfect settings in which to read a book or watch sheep grazing the sweet moorland grass.

Immediately to the south of the village rose Otley Chevin. The rocky mount gave magnificent views over Mid-Wharfedale, and it provided much of the delicate golden stone from which the village had been built. Of all her family, Ivy alone made certain to climb the Chevin at least once a week. From its summit she could gaze out across the bracken and heather, and sometimes imagine that she saw the sea.

"Puddles," Madeline announced. "Our petticoats will be six inches deep in mud by the time we get back home."

"Yes, but all the rain means the heather may bloom earlier this year," Ivy reminded her. "I can hardly wait until the moors are covered in purple."

"Which serves to remind me-a soft shade of lavender would look fine on me, I think." Caroline grabbed the loose ribbons on her bonnet as a gust of chill air swept across the lane. "I mean to study every bolt of fabric in the shops this morning, for I am determined to have a new gown to wear to Ivy's birthday ball. I do so wish we could take a coach to Leeds and purchase our fabrics there, but of course we must make do with our own wee Otley."

"Leeds is a horrid town!" Madeline exclaimed. "I abhor it. To think that Ivy must live there simply appalls me. I fear she shall never have me as a visitor."

"Such a great loss," Caroline said. "How will she ever bear it?"

"Clemma, why do you dawdle so?" Ivy called to her youngest sister. "You must stay with us, for you know we are just at the edge of the forest."

"But, Ivy, look! The chimneys at Longley are smoking!"

"Come, Clemma, it must be the morning mist."

"It is not mist, for it is quite gray, and it is wafting straight up out of the chimneys. One, two, three ... five chimneys are smoking at Longley."

"But that is impossible." Curious now, Ivy hurried back down the lane toward her little sister. "Mr. Richmond went to India ever so many years ago, and ... upon my word, the chimneys at Longley are indeed smoking!"

"The house must be afire," said Madeline, who was peering around a tree trunk at the edge of the woods that surrounded Longley Park. "Indeed, it is in blazes and will burn down altogether before anyone can put it out. Such a shame, for I understood the furnishings were quite magnificent."

"But the house is not afire," Ivy said. "I feel certain someone has lit the hearths. Someone is staying at Longley!"

"I should imagine a band of forest gypsies has broken in. They will burn up the portraits for firewood and make bedding of the draperies. Longley Park is said to be full of gypsies, you know, and I understand the deer have been completely poached out."

"But what if it is the ghost of old Mrs. Richmond?" Caroline whispered. "Did she not die in India? Perhaps she has come back to haunt the house."

"Oh, do not say such things, I beg you!" Clementine grabbed Ivy's hand and huddled close to her sister. "Ghosts are horrid!"

"Ghosts are nonexistent," Madeline announced.

"Indeed," Ivy said, "they are altogether quite transparent, I am told."

"Oh, Ivy!" Clementine cried.

"Nonsense, Clemma, I am only teasing. There is no such thing as a ghost ... while that smoke is very real indeed. I wonder if Mr. Richmond has come back from India."

"Perhaps it is his son," Madeline said. "The pirate."

"A pirate!" Clemma gasped.

"Colin Richmond is not a pirate." Despite the damp soil, Ivy knelt and cupped her little sister's face. "Pirates and ghosts are only in stories, dearest. The scion of the Richmond family sails about in his papa's ship, that is all."

"That is not all." Caroline folded her arms and lifted her chin. "I am pleased to tell you a great deal more than that, for I have it on good authority that ownership of Longley Park was transferred to Colin Richmond upon his coming of age. He writes to his gardener, you see, who is married to our housekeeper's sister. Our very own Mrs. Bignell told me that the young Mr. Richmond was given letters of marque from the king of England himself, and he goes about attacking and looting ships-and if that is not a pirate, I do not know what is."

"It is not very gentlemanlike behavior, at any rate."

"Oh, Colin Richmond is far from a gentleman. They say he has a lady in every port-"

"Caroline!" Ivy stood. "It is not Christian to gossip."

"I am only telling you what I heard from our housekeeper."

"And that is-"

"He is said to be very rich, and a real rake!" Caroline rushed on. "He owns properties in India and America and Africa, and who can tell where else? How can he make such diverse holdings profitable unless he owns slaves-"

"Slaves!" Clemma cried. "Oh, he is very bad indeed!"

"And I should imagine he trades in opium, for how does a man become wealthy at sea these days unless he carries such a cargo? Opium and slaves and piracy and-"

"Caroline, please." Ivy pinched her sister's ear and dragged her back onto the lane. "You are every bit as wicked as you have made out Mr. Richmond to be if you choose to speak of such things without the assurance of them."

"Ow! But I have heard it from our own Mrs. Bignell, who is the sister of-"

"Do you suppose that a man of such vast fortune and such wide wanderings and such treacherous occupations would bother himself to write to his gardener? Really, Caroline." Ivy released her sister and beckoned the others to follow. "No, indeed. If Mr. Colin Richmond is the sort of person who would take the time to correspond with a gardener, then it follows that he must be a gentleman of leisure. But if he is a pirate and a rake, then he certainly would have neither the time nor the inclination to write letters to anyone, least of all a lowly gardener. The information you have given us is all speculation and gossip, and it serves no worthier purpose than to fill your silly head with nonsense."

"I imagine he has killed people," Clemma said with a shiver. "Lots of them."

"Pirates are said to be dashing," Caroline murmured. "I should very much like to meet him ... unless he wears an earring, for that I could not abide."

"It will not be young Mr. Richmond lighting the hearths at Longley," Madeline said with conviction. "I suspect it is old Mr. Richmond feeling very much colder than he did in India. He is the one who has all the chimneys smoking on a spring morning."

Ivy shook her head as she bustled her sisters down the lane toward Otley. Their sole pursuit in life was the accumulation of trivial news. Who had worn that appalling violet bonnet to church? Which friend had been slighted by all the gentlemen at the recent dance at the assembly hall? Did everyone see the lace on Miss Bingham's gown? How can Mr. Desmond hope to marry when he has such teeth! Oh, it went on and on, and though Ivy loved her sisters dearly, she did enjoy the hours she spent away from them each day, tending to the sick and hungry in the village, or walking the moorlands, or reading in the family library.

Did the Creeves have a good library at their house in Leeds? she wondered as the party passed the massive iron gates of Longley Park. She sincerely hoped so, for reading and writing were among her greatest pleasures. The thought of Nigel Creeve gave her stomach a small twist, and she tugged her shawl more tightly around her shoulders. She had no reason to be uncomfortable with the arrangement her father had made to connect the two families, and she wished she could find greater joy in the coming nuptials.

Perhaps if she knew Mr. Creeve better, the matter would be resolved. As it was, they had spoken only a few times, and then he always seemed so stiffly reserved. But she had heard from more than one source that her future husband was upstanding and clever and very well respected. She hoped she would find him to be so once they were married.

"Papa has promised to give me a ball on my twenty-first birthday, too," Caroline was saying. "I am thinking of wearing red."

"Red!" Clementine gave a little skip. "I should never be as daring as that, Caroline! I shall wear pink when I am twenty-one."

"You and I are not likely to be given balls," Madeline intoned. "Papa will no doubt spend all his money on Ivy and Caroline. We shall have to content ourselves with nothing more memorable than a dance at the assembly hall in Otley. Or perhaps a tea in the garden at home."

"No, indeed! Do you really think so?"

"Papa is comfortable, Clemma, but he is not by any means wealthy. You know the Creeve family would not have taken Ivy for a pittance, and though Caroline is beautiful, she will require a good dowry, too. And that leaves only the crumbs for you and me."

"Crumbs?" Clemma frowned. "Well, then, I am determined to marry a very rich man who will allow me a ball whenever I wish."

"I am thinking of not marrying at all," Madeline said. "None of the men of our acquaintance can please me."

"Once Ivy has married into the Creeve family, we shall meet eligible bachelors of all sorts," Caroline said. "We shall go to visit her in Leeds and-"

At that moment, three ragged men leapt from the shrubbery beside the lane, cutting short her words. Their leader-a man with a gray beard and missing front teeth-raised a large, knobbed club as they approached the four young ladies.

Ivy grabbed Clementine. Madeline gasped, and Caroline let out a shriek.

"Yer bags," the leader demanded. "All of 'em, and we won't 'urt ye."

"Do as he says," Ivy ordered her sisters.

"But I-" Caroline clutched her handbag. "I want to buy cloth for my ball gown."

"Give it o'er!" the man snarled.

"At once!" Ivy shouted at her sisters.

Madeline cast her little purse onto the lane. Clemma, who did not have a bag, threw off her bonnet and shawl instead. Ivy tossed down her bag with the painstakingly transcribed instructions for the invitations to her birthday ball. As the men began to circle the four sisters, she could see they meant the worst.

"Caroline, give them your bag," she said. "I beg you!"

"No, they shall not have it. It is my money."

"Give it 'ere!" The leader lunged at Caroline, grasped her arm, and forced her down to her knees.

"Caroline!" Ivy screamed and leapt to her sister's aid. The man raised his club as Ivy wrestled the handbag from Caroline's arm. "Do us no harm, I beg you!"

"It is mine!" Caroline screeched.

"Lemme 'ave it!"

"Caroline, no!"

"Let go!"

As the bag flew out of Caroline's grasp, the robber brought his club down hard on the back of Ivy's head. She caught her breath, stunned and unable to focus, as the sound of running feet, shouts, and weeping filled the air. Fearing she might become ill, Ivy crumpled.

"You should have let him have your bag!" Madeline was crying. "Look, now he has tried to kill poor Ivy!"

"But it was my money! They had no right to it."

"Papa! I want my Papa!"

"Do stop wailing, Clemma." Madeline's voice rose above the others. "You and Caroline must stay here with Ivy while I run back to the house and fetch help."

"Do not go, Maddie! The gypsies will come again and murder us all!"

"Of course not, silly girl! They have what they wanted. Now stay here."

Amid the ensuing cries and pleadings as Madeline left, Ivy tugged apart the bow at her neck. Slipping her fingers inside her bonnet, she gingerly touched the back of her head. A large knot was forming, and she felt an odd sense of confusion. In fact, the smallest movement sent the world spinning.

"Madeline has gone home."


Excerpted from English Ivy by Catherine Palmer Copyright © 2002 by Catherine Palmer
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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English Ivy 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
English Ivy is a book that once again gave me that overpowering and overwhelming urge to read it all day and never put it down... i even got in trouble once or twice because i wasn't able to focus on my chores or homework... It was adorable and i totally recomend it for anyone... and i loved how it ended with a Bible verse changing his mind about Ivy... and how she thought of her family and put others before herself
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was SHOCKED by the critics review! 'English Ivy' was perfect! Probably the best book I've ever read! Normally reading puts me to sleep, but I found myself reading for hours and up until 3am not able to stop!! And as for the spiritual side, Palmer is so down to earth. She ¿deals straight¿ when it comes to the REAL Christian life. None of this fancy, 'let's pretend everything¿s always perfect' in the Christian walk. Furthermore, she dealt with the real struggles that a young lady like Ivy goes through, even today! At the time I read the book I couldn¿t believe how closely Ivy's dilemma resembled my own. Trying to determine God's will vs. dad's, and if the two ever oppose one another....for a Christian female, who is really seeking the Lord's will for her life and nothing less, this can be a real dilemma! Palmer dealt with the issue superbly! Not liberally, but conservatively, and I believe truly! What's more it was so encouraging! I would recommend it to any woman who loves the Lord and has ever struggled to know His will! What's more, even my grandmother loved it, and she's read quite a few Christian novels in her time, not to mention theological literature. Needless to say, I believe it's a MUST READ!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found English Ivy to be a very fulfilling book. Besides that fact that I can relate to the author being a Christian and living in Missouri, I found the book itself very good. The storyline is deep and true and it expresses a passion between the two characters that kept me from putting the book down. I found myself speaking aloud to myself about certain situations in the book and when I finished it, I read it again. It is by far my favorite book and Catherine Palmer did an excellent job producing a romance novel while still maintaining her Christian beliefs. By the way, I'm only in the 8th grade, but I know a good book when I read one and this is definitely a good book.