Christian historical, historical christian fiction

Book & Cover Review of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

Book Description From Publisher:

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt–and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?

Suzanne’s Book Review:
Julie Klassen has done it again. Her latest novel, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, kept me turning page after page … getting nothing else accomplished until I had the whole thing read. It was absolutely captivating. I felt that every detail of her 19th century English setting was absolutely real and believable as a reader. The author was very good at creating believable circumstances for an aristocrat to find a means of hiding as a servant. This was no easy feat for her heroine, as Margaret had to learn many tasks on the job – having always had her own servants to do everything for her in the past.

Additionally, there were elements of intrigue, mystery and suspense that kept the story’s pace moving quickly – and kept me glued until I had read it all apparently!


Suzanne’s Book Cover Review:
I always love it when a publisher has gone to great lengths to get the details about a character right on the cover design. In this case, we have photos of a woman wearing both a maid uniform, wig, and spectacles … and another photo (on the back cover) of the same woman without the wig and a fine dress. These photos were obviously carefully thought out by the cover designer to capture the feel of the story, and its main character. No generic stock photography here!

The background of a fine 19th century manicured grounds and manor also add to the appeal of this novel as a historical of the regency period.  The designer’s decision to add small touches of curling embellishments and spot varnish also add to the sense of fine quality this cover exudes to the potential reader. The spine carries this through, and features the same elements from the front cover that will attract readers of regency historicals even if only the spine is showing.

The only negative comment I have is regarding the novel’s title placement. The designer has had to add a dark translucent area to make it readable against the cover model and flowers she is holding. It’s not a bad way to handle it, but it just feels like it gets lost a little and could have been handled in a way that made it balance, or stand out a little more than the current treatment – something with a solid shape or background that wouldn’t overly hide the elements beneath it, but would still attract attention to the title. Still, despite that this is easily readable and I believe it to be a cover that will successfully attract the right readers to pick it up, even if they aren’t familiar with the author previously.

* This novel was received for review through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance under no guarantee of a positive review.

This week, the  Christian Fiction Blog Alliance  is introducing  The Maid of Fairbourne Hall  Bethany House (January 1, 2012)  by  Julie Klassen   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  

Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years (first in advertising, then as a fiction editor) and now writes full time. Two of her books, The Girl in the Gatehouse and The Silent Governess won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Girl in the Gatehouse also won a Midwest Book Award and The Silent Governess was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards.

She graduated from the University of Illinois and enjoys travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. Julie and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt–and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?

Observing both brothers as an “invisible” servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?

On her journey from wellborn lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of “serve one another in love.”

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, go HERE

Christian fiction, historical christian fiction

Book & Cover Review of "The Girl in the Gatehouse" by Julie Klassen

Girl in the Gatehouse, The
Book Review

The Girl in the GateHouse is the fourth book by author Julie Klassen, and the second I have personally read.  Both this novel and “The Silent Governess” feature plots that harken back to the regency time period. If you love writers such as Jane Austen both of these books will be a real treasure. In the Girl in the Gatehouse, the main character Mariah Aubrey has hidden herself away – living in the gatehouse of a distant relative. Due to bad choices she has ruined her reputation previously and now supports herself and her loyal servant by writing novels while secreted away in the gatehouse. In this time period novel writing is considered wrong for proper young ladies and could cause further scandal for her family if she is found out.

When her relative dies and the estate is leased by a recently retired naval Captain her hiding place, and her livelihood are in jeopardy.  This novel is very well written, full of strong characters and period detail. Overall this is more of a romance than a mystery, but more than one mystery is solved during the plot; strongly driving the reader to keep reading! Anyone who is a fan of historicals, particularly those of the regency period will LOVE this book (probably mostly women).

Book Cover Review

In the author’s notes at the back of the novel, the author reports that the photo of the gatehouse used on the cover design is the very one she had in mind while writing the novel – so no question why it so fits the interior writing. (This gatehouse is located in Deene Park in Northamptonshire and was once the country residence of Lord Cardigan, the “Homicidal Earl” who led the Charge of the Light Brigade.) The well-manicured lawn and the period day-dress being worn by our heroine’s representative on the cover are well chosen. Doesn’t she look like she just stepped off the set of Pride & Prejudice, or Sense & Sensibility?

The spine and front cover are extremely well suited for the correct market. The back cover is a little less impressive, though it does carry through with the lavender color found in the heroine’s dress and the floral, scroll-like embellishments found on both the front cover and spine. However, the copy writing and endorsements are strong and would still draw in readers.
In general, this novel is well-written, the cover is targeted to the right audience, and also well-designed. (Now I may have to go watch Pride & Prejudice or read my Jane Austen novels again … Well done!)

*This novel was supplied to me by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for review.