Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review: The Tutor's Daughter

The Tutor's DaughterAuthor: Julie Klassen
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.

When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor's daughter figure out which brother to blame... and which brother to trust with her heart?

Our story focuses around Emma Smallwood and her father, who since her early childhood have maintained a school for young boys known as Smallwood Academy. But since her mother’s death, her father has had an extremely hard time motivating himself and the young adolescents that he once tutored. Emma has stepped up to the plate and taking charge in her father’s absence, but things for the academy are not looking up and Emma and her father are more than likely going to soon be out of a job. That is until a new opportunity presents itself in the form of a new tutoring position. Mr. Smallwood is satisfied with the offer and thankful for a continuance of work and pay, while Emma is more hesitant but refrains from stating her concerns for the sake of her father.
The best part of this book was the elements of gothic mystery that were intertwined. I was not expecting this at all when I picked up this book, but was pleasantly surprised when I started to notice goosebumps running up my arms. I especially loved the characterization of the manor. I felt like I was reading Jane Austen or even Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I could sense the gothic elements and I know it was written intentionally. Even the characterization reminded me of some of my favorite romantic heroes and heroines like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, who Emma very much reminds me of.
Soon after Emma and her father’s arrival at the new manor where they will begin tutoring the two young boys, mysterious things start to occur and Emma is determined to get to the bottom of it. Pretty soon the mysterious happenings start to take a turn for more dangerous events and talk of ghosts go straight out the window. Emma know that there is something more at play here than a young boy’s idea of a ghost. It is so like Klassen to incorporate mystery, romance, drama, and still write a wonderful Christian fiction novel with a clear Christian message.
Overall, this was an interesting read for me and being able to connect it with the romantic/gothic fiction genre made it even better. Do not let the Christian Fiction genre scare anyone who finds that genre “too preachy,” because Klassen does a great job of hitting the high notes and leaving out all the excess that people tend to tire of quickly.
***I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review as part of The Liftuse Publicity Group & as part of The Bethany House Reviewers Program***


  1. I haven't seen this before. I love the time and setting. Thanks for the great review.

  2. I recently got this one from netgalley. glad you liked it.

  3. I really like the trailer, It reminds me of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.