Return to Ivy Hill in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold.
Living with the two Miss Groves in Ivy Cottage, impoverished gentlewoman Rachel Ashford is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. When the village women encourage her to open a subscription library with the many books she has inherited or acquired through donations, Rachel discovers two mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but will both find more than they bargained for?
Rachel's friend and hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and fills her days managing her girls' school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what--or who--has captured each man's attention? The truth may surprise them all.
Meanwhile, life has improved at the coaching inn and Jane Bell is ready to put grief behind her. Now if only the man she misses would return--but where is he?
As the women of Ivy Hill search for answers about the past and hope for the future, might they find love along the way?
About the Author
JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing's BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards and ACFW's Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.
Read an Excerpt
September 1820 Ivy Hill, Wiltshire, England
Rachel Ashford wanted to throw up her hands. Her private education by governess had not prepared her for this. Standing in the Ivy Cottage schoolroom, she paused in her prepared speech to survey the pupils. Fanny whispered to Mabel, Phoebe played with the end of her plaited hair, young Alice stared out the window, and Sukey read a novel. Only the eldest pupil, Anna, paid attention. And she was the most well-mannered among them and therefore least in need of the lesson. Whenever Mercy taught, the girls sat in perfect posture and seemed to hang on her every word.
Rachel was tempted to raise her voice but took a deep breath and continued evenly. "Always wear gloves on the street, at church, and other formal occasions, except when eating. Always accept gentlemanly offers of assistance graciously. Never speak in a loud, coarse voice, and —"
Fanny grunted. "That's the only voice I've got!"
A few of her classmates giggled.
"Girls, please try to remember that boisterous laughter is not acceptable in polite company. A lady always speaks and moves with elegance and propriety."
"Well, I am not in polite company," Fanny retorted. "I'm with you lot."
Rachel bit the inside of her cheek and persisted, "Vulgarity is unacceptable in any form and must continually be guarded against."
"Then don't venture into the kitchen when Mrs. Timmons is overcharged by the butcher. You'll hear vulgarities to make you blush, Miss Ashford."
Rachel sighed. She was getting nowhere. She picked up The Mirror of the Graces from the desk. "If you will not heed me, then listen to this esteemed author." She read from the title page. "'A book of useful advice on female dress, politeness, and manners.'"
"Oh bother," Fanny huffed.
Rachel ignored the groan, turned to a marked passage, and read.
"'The present familiarity between the sexes is both shocking to delicacy and to the interest of women. Woman is now treated by men with a freedom that levels her with the commonest and most vulgar objects of their amusement....'"
The door creaked open, and Rachel turned toward it, expecting to see Mercy.
Instead, Matilda Grove stood there, eyes alight. Behind her stood Mr. Nicholas Ashford, looking ill at ease.
Rachel blinked in surprise. "Miss Matilda. The girls and I were just ... trying ... to have a lesson on deportment."
"So I gathered. That is why I asked Mr. Ashford to come up with me. What better way to instruct on proper behavior between the sexes than with a demonstration. So much more engaging than dry text."
"Hear, hear," Fanny agreed.
Nicholas Ashford cleared his throat. "I was given to understand that you wanted assistance, Miss Ashford. Otherwise I would never have presumed to interrupt."
"I ... It is kind of you to offer, but I don't think —"
"'Always accept gentlemanly offers of assistance graciously,'" Mabel parroted Rachel's own words back to her.
Apparently, she'd been listening after all.
Rachel's neck heated. "Very well. That is, if you are sure you don't mind, Mr. Ashford?"
"Not at all."
Miss Matilda opened the door wider and gestured for him to precede her. The lanky young man entered with his long-legged stride.
The girls whispered and buzzed in anticipation while Rachel tried in vain to shush them.
He bowed, a lock of light brown hair falling over his boyish, handsome face. "Good day, Miss Ashford. Ladies."
Rachel felt more self-conscious than ever with him there to witness her ineptness.
"Why do you not act out the proper and improper behavior the book describes?" Matilda suggested. "First, I shall introduce you. For you know, girls, you are not to give your name to just any blade who happens along. One must wait to be introduced by a trusted friend or relation."
"Why?" Phoebe asked.
"To protect yourself from unsavory connections. Or from being corrupted by low company. Let's see now. I have always loved a little playacting, though as a thespian I am nothing to your dear departed father, Miss Rachel." Matilda raised a finger. "I know — I shall pretend to be some great personage, like ... Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice. Wonderful novel. Have you read it?"
Rachel shook her head.
"Oh, you should. So diverting and instructive."
"I'm afraid I don't care much for books."
Matilda's mouth stretched into a long O. She sent a significant look toward the students.
"That is," Rachel hurried to amend, "I am sure books are quite worthwhile. For learning especially. I read many in my own years in the schoolroom. And my father loved books."
Matilda nodded. "Very true. At all events. For now, we shall dispense with rank and introduce you as social equals." She began in a royal accent, "Miss Ashford, may I present my friend Mr.
Ashford. Mr. Ashford, Miss Rachel Ashford."
Sukey murmured, "That's a lot of Ashfords."
"How do you do, sir." Rachel curtsied.
Nicholas bowed. "Miss Ashford. A pleasure to meet you."
"Excellent," Matilda said. "Now let us progress to how to deal with impertinent males." She picked up Rachel's book, skimmed, then read aloud, "'We no longer see the respectful bow, the look of polite attention, when a gentleman approaches a lady. He runs up to her, he seizes her by the hand, shakes it roughly, asks a few questions, and to show he has no interest in her answers, flies off again before she can make a reply.'" She looked up at Nicholas.
"Can you demonstrate this — how not to approach a lady."
His mouth parted. "I would never —"
"I think it will be all right this once, Mr. Ashford. It is for the sake of the girls' education, after all." Matilda said it innocently, but Rachel saw the mischievous glint in her eye.
"Ah. Very well. In that case."
Nicholas retreated a few paces, then advanced on Rachel in two long strides, grabbing her hand and shaking it vigorously. "I say, Miss Ashford. What a beautiful day it is. You are in good health, I trust? Well, we must take a turn soon. Good-bye for now." He turned and strode out the door.
The girls giggled and applauded. Nicholas stepped back into the room, blushing furiously. He sent Rachel an uncertain look, and she smiled encouragement in return.
Matilda shook her head in mock disapproval. "Such shocking familiarity! Icy politeness is a well-bred woman's best weapon in putting vulgar mushrooms in their place."
"Mushrooms?" Mabel echoed. "Mr. Ashford, she called you a mushroom!"
"I've been called worse."
"Now, let us repeat the scenario. But this time, Miss Rachel, if you will demonstrate the proper response?"
Again Nicholas Ashford stepped forward and took her hand in both of his. She glanced up at him from beneath her lashes. He was tall — and looking down at her with warm admiration. His fair gaze traced her eyes, her nose, her cheeks....
When she made no move to rebuke Mr. Ashford, Miss Matty prompted from the book, "'When any man, who is not privileged by the right of friendship or of kindred, attempts to take her hand, let her withdraw it immediately with an air so declarative of displeasure, that he shall not presume to repeat the offense.'"
Matilda stopped reading and Rachel felt her expectant look, but she could not bring herself to jerk her hand from his. Not when he had offered to marry her. Not in front of an audience. It seemed so heartless.
"Is it ever all right to let a man hold your hand?" seventeen-year-old Anna Kingsley whispered hopefully.
Matilda turned from the uncooperative couple to answer. "Well, yes. But remember, Anna, a touch, a pressure of hands, are the only external signs a woman can give of entertaining a particular regard for someone. She must reserve them only for a man she holds in high esteem."
With another glance at the frozen pair, Matilda closed the book and cleared her throat. "Well, girls. What say we end a bit early and go outside for recess. You don't mind if we cut our lesson short, Miss Rachel? No, she does not. All right, girls. Out we go."
Rachel pulled her gaze from Mr. Ashford's in time to see the amusement glittering in Matilda's eyes as she shepherded the pupils past her demonstration partner, who still held fast to her hand.
When the door shut behind the girls, Rachel gave a lame little chuckle and gently tugged her hand from his. "The lesson is over, apparently."
He clasped his own hands together. "Do you think it helped?"
Helped ... what? she wondered, but replied casually, "Heavens, who knows? More than my poor attempts to teach them at any rate." She stepped to the desk and tossed her notes into the rubbish bin. "I have no talent for teaching. I must find another way to contribute here. Or find another livelihood."
He followed her to the desk. "You need not be anxious about supporting yourself, Miss Ashford. You have not forgotten my offer, I trust?"
"No. I have not. Thank you." Rachel swallowed and changed the subject. "Shall we ... um, walk together, Mr. Ashford? You did mention it was a beautiful day."
"Oh. Of course. If you'd like."
Did she want to be seen strolling side by side with Nicholas Ashford? She did not want to encourage the inevitable tittle-tattle, but nor was she ready to remain alone with him — and his offer — in private.
She retrieved her bonnet, then led the way downstairs. There, he opened the front door for her and ushered her through it.
Which way? Not toward the busybody's bakery or Brockwell Court, she decided. She gestured in the opposite direction. "Shall we walk this way?"
He nodded, and at the corner they turned down Ebsbury Road and passed the almshouse.
She took a deep breath to steel herself. They would soon reach Thornvale. Beautiful, beloved Thornvale. When they reached its gate, she looked at the fine, red-brick house with its dark green door. Oh, the happy years she had spent there with her parents and sister before their troubles started. It was also where her brief courtship with Timothy Brockwell had begun, and then ended all too soon. When her father died, the house went to Nicholas Ashford — his heir and distant cousin. He and his mother lived there now.
If Rachel married him, she could leave life as an impoverished gentlewoman and return to her former home. Should she? She could not keep him waiting forever.
His voice penetrated her reverie. "Shall we turn here?"
"Hm? Oh, yes."
Diverting onto the wide High Street, they passed the bank, now closed. A few houses. Fothergill's Apothecary, its window displaying colorful bottles of patent medicines. The butcher's with his gruesome slabs of hanging meat and dead fowl, and the greengrocers with crates of produce.
Nicholas gestured toward Prater's Universal Stores and Post Office. "Do you mind if we stop here? I have something to post." He pulled a letter from his pocket.
Rachel acquiesced but said she would wait for him outside. She avoided smug Mrs. Prater whenever she could. The sour shopkeeper's wife had once treated her with fawning respect, but that was before her father's financial ruin.
While she waited, Rachel glanced toward The Bell next door, wondering if she had time to stop in and greet Jane before Nicholas returned. But at that moment, two people on horseback rode out through the coaching inn archway — Jane Bell and Sir Timothy Brockwell. Rachel's stomach twisted at the sight.
They did not notice her, talking companionably as they directed their mounts down the Wishford Road. Both were well dressed — Jane in a striking riding habit of peacock blue. Together, they were the picture of a perfectly paired couple.
Rachel found herself transported back to her youth. She, Jane, Timothy, and Mercy were all from the area's leading families. The other three were close in age, but Rachel was a few years behind them. Judged too young to tag along, Rachel had frequently been left behind when the others went off together on some adventure. Especially Jane and Timothy, who had always been far more active and athletic than she or bookish Mercy Grove.
Standing there on the High Street, Rachel felt twelve years old all over again. That plump awkward adolescent, watching the enviable adults ride away together.
The shop door opened behind her, and Rachel turned toward it.
Nicholas followed the direction of her gaze and nodded toward the riders. "Who is that with Sir Timothy?"
"My friend Jane Bell."
As if sensing their scrutiny, Sir Timothy glanced over his shoulder at them but did not smile or wave.
Nicholas studied her face. "He has never married?"
She shook her head.
"I wonder why."
So do I, Rachel thought, but she made do with a shrug.
"Has he ever courted anyone?"
"Not in years, as far as I know."
"But you two are ... friends?"
"Family friends, yes. But that doesn't mean he would confide something of such a personal nature to me."
Nicholas turned to watch Sir Timothy again as he and Jane disappeared down the hill. "I gather he is considered quite the eligible bachelor. A desirable catch."
"Yes, he would be," she answered truthfully. "For the right woman."
Rachel had once thought that she might be that woman. But that was eight years ago. She took a deep breath. It was long past time to forgive, forget, and move forward.
She gestured across the street toward Potters Lane. "Shall we continue on together?"
For a moment Nicholas held her gaze, his eye contact uncomfortably direct. "Yes, I very much hope we shall."
Jane Bell inhaled a deep breath of fragrant autumn air — apples and blackberries, hay and oats drying in the sunshine. The green leaves of chestnut trees and underbrush were beginning to mellow and yellow, which made the colors of the remaining flowers and ripening fruit seem more vibrant. Riding past, she noticed a goldfinch feeding on burst pods of thistle seed, and in the distance, workers harvested a field of oats.
She and Timothy talked sparingly as they cantered along Wishford Road. Dressed in the new riding habit she'd given in and purchased, Jane felt prettier than she had in a long while. Sir Timothy was well turned out as always in a cutaway coat, leather breeches, and Hessian boots.
When they slowed their mounts to a walk, he looked over at her. "Is that a new habit?"
"Yes, it is."
"I like it. You looked like a bedraggled sparrow in that old brown one."
She mock gasped. "Thank you very little, sir! You are most ungallant."
Inwardly she was pleased that he felt free to tease her. It made her feel closer to him — to the Timothy of old, her childhood friend.
He smiled. "I am glad we can ride together now and then. I missed it."
"Me too. Who did you ride with all those years we ... didn't?"
"On my own mostly. Occasionally with the farm manager to look over the fields, or sometimes with Richard, though he comes home less and less."
Jane had not seen his brother in years. "But no friends?" He shook his head. "If you think about it, there is a dearth of men my age around Ivy Hill."
"I never really considered it. I had Mercy and Rachel, but you had few friends close by."
"I didn't need more friends." He sent her a sidelong glance. "I had you."
Their gazes met and held, and Jane felt a poignant ache beneath her breastbone.
He lightened the moment with a wry grin. "Oh, don't feel sorry for me. Horace Bingley wasn't too far away, but I saw more than enough of him at school."
"Feel sorry for the lord of the manor?" Jane teased. "Hardly."
Although she did, a little. His life, his family, his responsibilities were not always easy.
He looked down, then asked, "Did you and Mr. Bell ride together? I never saw you, if you did."
She looked at him in surprise. He almost never asked about John.
"No. My father sold Hermione while I was away on our wedding trip, and John was always too busy with the inn."
"Then I am glad you have Athena now. She suits you."
Jane stroked the mare's sleek neck. "Yes. I am grateful to have her."
She thought of Gabriel Locke, who had given her Athena. His ruggedly handsome face shimmered in her memory, along with the feel of his strong, callused hands holding hers.
Timothy's gaze swept over her again. "It is good to see you out of mourning, Jane. Are you ... over the worst of your grief?" She considered that. "I am, yes." At least where John is concerned.
"Will you ever marry again, do you think?"
Jane coughed at the question.
"Dust," she mouthed, but knew he wasn't fooled. She swallowed and said, "I don't know. Maybe. In time."
He winced. "Tell me truthfully, Jane. Did you marry Mr. Bell because you wanted to or because I disappointed you?"
Excerpted from "The Ladies of Ivy Cottage"
Copyright © 2017 Julie Klassen.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Can't wait for the next book to c ontinue the story.
Julie Klassen’s return trip to Ivy Hill was even more enjoyable than the first time around. The pace was sedate, but the plot was intriguing, and I looked forward to picking the book back up whenever life got in the way. There is still a romance or two left to develop in the finale but those that came to fruition were oh so satisfying. The inhabitants of Ivy Hill have charmed their way into my heart and I am eager to see them again. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
I am loving the Tales from Ivy Hill! The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is another winning story, full of charm, whimsy, and characters that I grew to love. The plot is best described as steady, flavored with issues that aren't particularly heart-stopping, but still full of heart and emotion. Usually when a book switching between characters, I usually get impatient to leave one and get back to my favorite, but that wasn't the case here. Even though I probably do prefer Jane over the others (I'm usually loyal to the first character I "meet"), the other characters are endearing, and I loved each part of their stories, as they navigated their lives. It was a delight to see more of Jane and Thora, but also delightful to get to know Rachel more, a character that I wasn't too sure about in the first book. I admit, when she said that she didn't care for books, I just thought there was no way I could relate to her, ha! But then, when she stepped out and started her own circulation library, I had to come around. I just loved the details about the circulating library. Saying that the plot is steady is not to say that there were no mysteries or no romance. Indeed, some of the character surprised me, both in the revelations that were made about them, and the way they interacted with others in unexpected ways. One certain character I was just desperate to see back, and even though all things are not resolved, I have high hopes! And, oh my, this book has some of the sweetest and endearing declarations of love that just made me sigh. I'm so looking forward to the third book. In the next book, I really hope to see a happily ever after for Jane, and I can't wait to see what happens with Mercy - I thought I knew what I wanted to happen, but now I'm just not sure and can see multiple avenues. I can definitely see myself re-reading this series, and they are definitely going on my keeper shelf, which is what I say about all of Klassen's titles. Both books are on my favorites list for the year. It seems such a long wait for book three, but I know it'll be worth it! One more note - I highly recommend reading these books in order. I think it's unfair when readers get annoyed that a book in a series doesn't stand alone. If you don't like stories with unresolved plot points, then you won't like this series. I know a lot of Christian fiction uses the term "series" very loosely (like set in the same town, or within the same family), so many CF readers come to expect that, but these books are a series in the truer sense of the word, in that, you will be confused about many things if you don't read book one first, and therefore, probably not enjoy it.
Easy fun read! I love the different perspective from the other book.
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen is the second book in the Tales from Ivy Hill series. The women of the village are encouraging Miss Rachel Ashford to set up a circulating library with the many books that were left to her by her late father. As she begins to sort through the different books that the villagers also donate she stumbles upon a mystery. With the help of an ex-suitor Rachel searches for clues. Mercy Grove, Rachel’s hostess, is resigned to being a spinster and running her girls’ school. So, when several men begin to stop by Ivy Cottage she assumes they are interested in Rachel. The truth may come as a shock to everyone. I admit the story started out a little slow. It seemed to be just the everyday lives of an English village. But, once you immersed yourself in that daily living you began to be a part of it. I couldn’t put the book down. I enjoyed getting to know the ladies living in Ivy Hill. Their struggles and triumphs were an inspiration. I can’t wait for the next book. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Rachel Ashford's life has crashed in around her. She's lost her father, her wealth, and her station in life. Fortunately, the Grove sisters have welcomed her to their home, Ivy Cottage until she can land on her feet. She's bewildered at how she can bring in an income to pay for room and board. She's never been in this situation. As Rachel redefines her life, she assists Miss Mercy Groves, who teaches young girls from the small community at the cottage. The older Miss Groves, who does the cooking, unites with Mercy in creating the family Rachel lacks. Their support lays a foundation for her during the ups and downs as gentlemen come to call. Rachel's best friend, Jane Bell handles her husband's inn as best she can without him as her mother-in-law retires with her new husband to his farm. Jane helps remind Rachel of her childhood hopes and dreams when a beau returns to both of their lives. All of these women learn to lean on and trust in God for their futures even the Miss Groves's sisters who may lose their precious Ivy Cottage. It seems nothing remains the same. Will God be enough for each of them? I received a copy from Net Galley. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.
I was well into this book before I realized it was a continuation of the previous one, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. To me this shows it can absolutely be read as a standalone! I had trouble getting into the story, it was a slow start, but I am so glad I continued! It was a rewarding read! There are a lot of characters but Ms. Klassen did a stellar job of making it easy to keep them straight by her detailed personalization of their individual emotions, thoughts, and characteristics. She flawlessly wove in and out of each one’s experiences giving the story depth. The 1800’s was not an easy time for a single woman, especially in providing for themselves. The book shares the lives of three such women. Jane is a widow who has the blessing of being proprietor deceased husband’s family. Rachel is alone due to the death of her father, but lost her inheritance and her only source of income. Mercy has given up finding love and resigned herself to spinsterhood. While each lady faces difficult challenges they have the strong support of one another. Romance blooms for each, but not without difficulty and heartache. Even though Jane had a source of income, handling the stress and responsibility alone was challenging to say the least. It was no walk in the park! Though she was cheerful and caring, she carried a heavy load of grief in the loss of many children by miscarriage. Of the three, Rachel had the least and solely relied on the kindness of her friends. Her story saddened me. She had lived in wealth and comfort before she lost her father. I feel her situation was the hardest to go from having everything to being homeless and penniless. I admired her spunk and determination to provide for herself and earn a living with what meager means there were. Mercy, poor homely Mercy. She had such a sweet and loving spirit. Though her outside was plain her inside was beautiful. She ran a girl’s school and lived with her Aunt Matilda. I loved Aunt Matilda, she was such a hoot. Not only did she make me laugh but I enjoyed the spirit in which she shared her wisdom with the girls. Mercy was so dedicated to her students. Her home actually belonged to her brother who was living overseas. After he marries her meddling (and irritating) parents give her an ultimatum to marry a suitor they have introduced her to or lose everything. Her situation reminded me of how few choices women, especially from wealthy families, had during this time. Mercy wants to marry for love. But with her looks her parents feel she will be lucky if ANYONE will have her. Each of the characters were inspiring in their faith, growth, and in spiritual lessons Their lives taught. A wonderful read! I received this book from Bethany House Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.
I found this slow moving in the beginning and it took me awhile to get into it but part way in I was compelled along. I would describe it as a meandering stream that you sit and enjoy on a warm spring day. I recommend reading book one first, as this revisits numerous characters and you might feel lost if you read this as a stand-alone. Many stories left hanging in book one are resolved and others leave you hanging for book three. Now I will anxiously await to read it. I found it interesting how a circulating library worked in 1820. I loved the friendships of the ladies and how they support each other in their endeavors to support themselves financially in a time when it was difficult to be unmarried. I enjoyed the handwritten letters and secrets that were revealed through them. The character development especially of Thora was heartwarming and I loved the lesser character of Hetty. Very interesting read of friendship, faith, secrets revealed, and opening your heart.. I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is the second book in Julie Klassen’s Tales from Ivy Hill series, coming after The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Julie Klassen has always been one of my all-time favorite historical authors, so I almost always order her new books around their release, even if I have no idea what they’re about (which almost never happens because I already have been anticipating her books months before their release dates and know their basic plotline by heart). This story was no exception of course, especially since it was her first ever sequel to one of her other novels, or in other words, this is her first series, so I’ve never read one of her “second books” before. Let me begin by saying that Ivy Hill is a very captivating place to visit. There is always so much going on, so many characters to love, and one mystery or love triangle after another. Though this novel somewhat resolves those triangles, which I was glad to see, though I won’t tell you how they end up. Besides, I don’t even know the outcome of all of them; just because one part of the triangle is resolved and it’s no longer a triangle anymore doesn’t necessarily mean that the remaining parts got married and now are living happily ever after. As you’ve probably already guessed, I was really glad to be able to resume the stories of Jane Bell, Rachel Ashford, and Mercy Grove, and I’m still looking forward to seeing how the rest of their lives—at least the parts told by Julie—turn out. And, you probably have already guessed this too, but I have the third, and final I believe, novel of this series already on my “to order” list. The Bride of Ivy Green is going to be the perfect addition to this series, I believe, and I’m hoping it holds some of the endings I have been anticipating throughout my reading of the previous two books. Now I’ve rambled on long enough, and I haven’t even really discussed my true thoughts on this book. Like I’ve mentioned quite a few times on this blog, Julie Klassen is one of my favorites, so I always enjoy everything she writes. This particular novel, however, wasn’t quite as excellently written as I am used to seeing from her. Now, don’t get me wrong, this story was still beautiful, and Julie’s character development and plot twists were just as wonderful as ever, I just felt like some of the interactions were a little more “surfacey” than I am used to seeing from her. I know that isn’t actually a word, but it’s in my dictionary as “not deep; stilted and forced conversation or interaction in a book or a movie,” and I’m just not used to seeing that from Julie. Even though I am not a published author myself, I am a writer, so I know on a somewhat personal level how difficult it is to have every interaction we write seem natural and not forced or “surfacey,” so I have seen some sections of writing that have fallen into that trap, both in books that I have read and in my own writing. Other than that, Julie really did a fantastic job with this novel. I had no idea how things were going to play out, and I really, really enjoyed getting to catch up with some of my favorite characters from her previous installment. When I think of how many bookshelves to give this novel, I have a little bit of a tough time deciding, because my real, true answer, I believe, would be four and a half, but I don’t ever give half-bookshelves. Those are not things that you can find in my world. So, I think I’m still going to give The Ladies of Ivy Cottage all five bookshelves,
What a delightful story! The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is a wonderful novel set in 1820, England. The characters are what make this book. Julie Klassen has woven a wonderful community in which to showcase these vivid ladies. I can see clearly in my minds eye what Ivy Cottage and the grounds surrounding it look like. I can even picture the town and Thornvale from the picturesque descriptions. Rachel, Mercy, Jane, Aunt Matty, Thora, and Hetty all seem like neighbors I have come to know and love. I loved the ending for Rachel's sake, but I will miss these ladies.
I can’t wait to have more books in this series. I love all the characters. I loved learning about how subscription libraries worked. I love all the recurring characters and how we learn more about each one. I laughed and cried during this book. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
What a lovely story and town Julie Klassen has created in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. This is the second in the series, Tales from Ivy Hill, and it reads very much like a well done BBC drama. It has been a year since I read the first in the series so I just needed to get reacquainted with the characters again, but once I was reestablished, the story came alive. This series is about a town called Ivy Hill. We have three main characters that the story does revolve around: Jane, Mercy, and Rachel who are good friends and have been since childhood. All of them have had their ups and downs and this story continues their lives. Jane is now officially out of mourning, Mercy’s girl school is up and running and Rachel has opened a subscription and circulating library which was interesting to read and learn about. All three still are still unattached and seem to think that is the way for them. Not by choice, but by life and each of their current circumstances. The author really kept me on tenterhooks as I was reading. There was not just one gentleman, but a few that vied for the attentions of each one. We are introduced to other townspeople’s and there are a couple of hidden secrets that come to light that changes the course of life for the characters. This is not a short book and the author takes her time to flesh out all the details. I was at times quite impatient and hoped to get at least a few of the story threads tied up nice and neat. I will say that things took an interesting and unexpected turn for one of the young ladies, a happily ever after for another one, and a hopeful one for another. I look forward to the next in the series to see how all these storylines will resolve. I highly recommend this whole series. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
Once again, author Julie Klassen has written a captivating Regency with a delectable blend of Victoria Holt, Charlotte Bronte, and Jane Austen—filled with twists and turns and never a dull moment! With a mysterious Gothic aura about it, this novel immediately drew me in and simply kept me glued to the pages throughout. Although I didn't read the first book in this series, I had no trouble keeping up with the intriguing characters or storyline. And oh, the angst-filled romance. What exquisite torment. Sigh.... Not everything is resolved with all the ladies of Ivy Cottage, paving the way for another book in this amazing series. One I simply cannot wait to read! I was given this book as a delightful gift and was not required to write a review at all. All opinions expressed are my own.
The second book in the Tales of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage ties up some of the loose ends of the first book but leaves you anxiously awaiting the third. Ivy Cottage was the family home of the Groves. After her parents moved to London they allowed Mercy and her aunt Matilda to live there and they run a school girls whose families cannot afford boarding school. Rachel Ashford moved to Ivy Cottage after her father died and a distant cousin inherited the family estate. Raised as a Genteel lady she now feels compelled to earn her own way and utilizes her father's extensive library to start a circulating library in one side of the home. Several men begin to take interest in Ivy Cottage but what, or who, is the cause the attention? When a long buried secret is discovered what will be the fallout. Can hurts and betrayals from times past be forgiven and amends made? These are some of the questions raised in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. I received a free copy from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group. No review, positive or otherwise, was required – all opinions are my own.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. The writing was good and the story mostly engaging. I enjoy a book that shows you what life was like in another time without dragging you down with all the details. There are a few things about the book that one might consider before reading it. First, it is the second book in the Tales From Ivy Hill series. While it could be read and enjoyed as a stand alone, I think that it would be better enjoyed read after reading the first book, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Most definitely you wouldn't want to read the first book after the second as it is a continuation of the first. The book also has a little bit of a slow beginning, and I was left wondering for a while what exactly, and who exactly, this book was about. There was some resolution to some of the threads at the end, but not the strong ending that I prefer, but obviously she needed to leave some things unended so that readers would want to buy the third book in the series. I would give this book a 3 out of 5 stars. Bethany House provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was excited to return to Ivy Hill, and author Julie Klassen didn’t disappoint me. Klassen does a good job of putting the reader in Regency England. You can see the setting through her descriptions, and you become very familiar with the characters. Ivy Hill truly comes to life. The story centers mainly on three friends, with other characters woven through out. If you haven’t read book 1 of the series you may have trouble following what is going on. I enjoyed the switching from one character to another, as they were all intertwined. A slower paced story, I truly enjoyed being able to take in all of the description without feeling like I had to rush to see what happened next. Gentle romance, history, and a library. This book has something for everyone and I highly recommend it. I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
Just lovely! It's not fast-paced or terribly exciting, but the women of Ivy Hill have a gentle strength that made this book a pleasure to read. I recommend reading the first book in the series, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, to more fully understand and appreciate the backgrounds of the various community members. The perspective switches often between Jane (the innkeeper), Rachel (the librarian), Mercy (the teacher), and Thora (Jane's mother-in-law). We learn more about Timothy, Rachel and Jane's childhood friend and beau, Mrs. Haverhill, the mysterious recluse, and Mr. Grant, the businessman, and their pasts and secrets are slowly revealed throughout the book in intriguing layers which propelled the story forward. By the conclusion of the book we have happy endings for some, and interesting prospects for others, making me wish the third book was already out! The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is definitely a book to savor as it's read. (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
This is a continuation of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill but the focus is on Rachel and Mercy, both friends of Jane from the pervious book. After losing her home to a distant relative, Miss Rachel Ashford lives as a guest in Ivy Cottage with her friend Miss Mercy Grove, who runs a boarding school for girls. Determined to earn her own livelihood, Rachel decides to open a circulating library with the many books she inherited from her father. In one of the books, donated by an anonymous donor, she discovers a letter that reveals a secret and a mystery she is determined to solve. The book’s focus is on the various relationships between the characters and the dynamics of living in Ivy Hill, a small English village in 1820. I thought this book was a bit slow in the beginning. It took me about a hundred pages to start engaging with the characters and the rhythm of the story. There were many references to the characters and plot of the previous book, so I would definitely recommend reading The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill prior to reading this book. In addition, there was important background information on the various people. One of the things I like most about this author is the complexity of her stories and characters. Meaning, that each of her characters has a past that includes regrets and mistakes. To me, that aspect makes them richer and creates fortitude as they overcome their past. The other aspect about her characters is that they take the high road even when there is a cost to them. In this case, Mercy must make a decision to be truthful, regardless of the negative consequences. Ms. Klassen is a master with words and describes both scenery and emotions with expertise, making the reader feel as if they are living in Ivy Hill. I would recommend reading this historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, by Julie Klassen, is the second book in the Tales From Ivy Hill series, and takes place during the Regency era of the early 1800s. It contains some of the same villagers as book one, and shares similar themes. Just as in the first book of the series (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill) there is a neighborhood map in the front of the book that enables the reader to visualize the region. I wish there was a list of characters as well, because there are many. I had a difficult time of keeping them straight. I think it helps to have read the first book in the series to become more familiar with who’s who. For me, although the story evoked laugh out loud moments, and heart touching emotions, the beginning was a bit slow. The pace picked up in the middle, but there was so much going on that I felt a little lost. I enjoyed the mystery and romance aspects, and the Ivy Hill community is well thought out and crafted, but I can’t say I became fully immersed in the story or characters. Perhaps if there was fewer storylines, and more focus on a particular character, I would have been more satisfied. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher.
•°o•:*:•.BUSY VILLAGE LIFE.•:*:• o°• Ivy Hill, Wilshire, England, September 1820 So much is happening in this second installment of Tales from Ivy Cottage. On the author’s character page found on [talesfromivyhill dot com] I counted over 100 characters! That’s a lot, but it makes for a very interesting series; one in which you can imagine yourself stepping back into time to visit the quaint village life. Jane Fairmont runs The Bell and had a starring role in the last book. Mercy Grove, schoolmistress and spinster, living with Matilda Grove (Aunt Matty). Rachel Ashford, currently being pursued by Nicholas Ashford, a distant second cousin who inherited her home after her parents were deceased. She now lives with Mercy and Matty and hopes to learn where her place in society is through attending the Ladies Tea and Knitting Society. James Drake, charmer/recent owner of The Fairmont hotel, shows interest in Jane, as well seeking information on a long lost acquaintance. Mr. Ainsworth, old sexton/gravedigger, is one of my favorite background characters. He has a deep respect for all things living, and a special scene with Jane really which yanked my heartstrings. Sir Timothy Brockwell, baronet, and former love interest to both Jane and Rachel during their youth, yet now 30 and never married. He is very kind, but trapped by what’s expected and proper. These are just a handful of the interesting characters whose lives are woven together with day-to-day events, celebrations, losses, hopes and worry for the future, and faith. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and TEA, oh the tea… it is woven throughout time and again. Sigh. The author also has some lovely pictures, character directory, map of the town, etc. all found under Tales From Ivy Hill dot com. Book #2 © December 2017 Bethany House 442 pages with discussion questions Book 3 – The Bride of Ivy Green, due out Dec. 2018
I loved Rachel, Jane and Mercy for the support, friendship and faith they had in each other. Rachel has suffered a great loss, but has the fortitude to face the past and look to the future with great hope. Mercy thinks she has everything set in her life until a little girl shows her what her heart truly desires, but will her parents step in a forbid her greatest desire? Jane has a plan and that's to remodel her inn and improve business. This is a story about friendship, faith, secrets, second chances, and love. This is a book I would recommend to anyone. I received this book from the publisher as part of their book blogging program. I was not required to write a positive review.
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage was delightful to read! The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen is a touching story of women determined to support themselves in progressive ways not yet common in their society. Both Rachel and Mercy find themselves unmarried and without husbands to support them. With the help of friends, Rachel opens a circulating library, while Mercy’s heart is devoted to educating local young women. Despite obstacles, both Rachel and Mercy discover themselves as friends rally around them to help and encourage them. Full of warmth, heartache, friendship and loss, Klassen continues to explore the relationships of women in the small village of Ivy Hill in her second novel in her Ivy Hills series. Klassen’s narrative is delightful to read because it flows with simplicity and authenticity and which shows the heartaches and triumphs of her characters with grace and aplomb. She has a way of making her characters, my neighbors. She is a gifted writer with touching insights to share. I look forward to her the next novel in the Ivy Hill series. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen for my candid review.
I enjoyed the first book a lot. I loved the setting and I felt like I was really there. So I liked going to back and visiting again. It took me a while to remember all of the characters and who they were. But once I got there I easily fell back into the story. We get to catch up with the characters we met in the first book and get a deeper look into there lives. And there was all these potential romances going on, it kept it very interesting. I think I liked this book even more than first because of the deeper aspect into each character and getting to know them even more. I do think you need to read the first book in the series to fully appreciate this one. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
This is a charming historical romance! There are a number of characters that play a major part in this story. Miss Rachel Ashford is the central figure though. Everyone else connects with her in some way or another. They are all extremely well developed and a delight to get to know. Primarily this is a stand-alone story within a series. Though there were a number of things that I felt a little left out of the loop about since I haven’t read the first book in the series. I believe that this is simply because of the small country town and the tight connections that the residents have with each other. It is set in 1820, Wiltshire, England. The descriptions of the area and how life was lived were fabulous. Many times I felt transported to the area. Rachel’s best friends are Jane Bell and Mercy Grove. They each have things going on in their own lives and at times I was so touched by their circumstances and heart aches that I found myself reaching for a tissue to dry my eyes. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I have chosen to write this review to express my personal opinion. Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*