Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review and Giveaway: The Inkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?

In her latest novel, award-winning author Julie Klassen takes her readers to the charming English village of Ivy Hill.  There we meet Jane Bell and a colorful cast of characters, all connected to a local inn called The Bell.  The year is 1820, and coaching inns are still a staple of 19th century life, with their ability to care for overnight tenants as well as travelers stopping for a short respite on their journeys. This time period, setting, and set of characters are rife with opportunities for storytelling, and Julie Klassen has done a fabulous work in this initial offering in her Tales from Ivy Hill series.

While the number of individuals is plentiful throughout the story, Klassen’s writing is such that I was able to compartmentalize their narratives and grow to enjoy each storyline as it unfolded. Yes, Jane Bell is the main character here, but there is so much going on throughout the novel. There is drama, suspense, and a touch of romance.  This is no edge-of-your-seat thriller, but a pleasant and captivating story, much along the lines of Cranford or North and South. Fans of Downton Abbey would also probably enjoy The Inkeeper of Ivy Hill, not because of any opulence (because there really isn’t much to speak of) or because of an upstairs/downstairs theme, but because of the rich nature of the relationship tales that are told and the multiple plotlines that are woven in this bit of historical fiction.

To quote the novel:

“All those employed by or benefited by the inn, in turn patronize the remaining businesses and give to the charity guild and poor fund. Village life is like an ivy vine climbing a great oak. You cut off the vine at the root, and all the way up the tree, the leaves wither. We’re all connected.”

This interconnectedness can be seen in most of the relationships in Ivy Hill, as Jane and her associates fight to keep the inn solvent, and other members of the community experience their own hardships as well.  Although they are dealing with difficult issues, Ivy Hill is a sweet, pleasant, sometimes romantic tale that I found relaxing and a delight to read. The personalities are diverse, and some are not always what they seem.  At times, there was an air of mystery to the plot, and there was one revelation near the end that took me by surprise.  A character I thought to be a villain turned out to be a standup fellow after all. While The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is very family-friendly and written by a Christian author, it was not overly “religious” and simply was a charming, heartwarming story.

I’m so pleased to know that with The Inkeeper of Ivy Hill, Julie Klassen’s readers have only just begun their time with this new set of characters.  The next book in the series, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is set for release in December of 2017, and I greatly look forward to that next release from such an entertaining author.

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. Her books have been honored with the Christy Award for Historical Romance, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Midwest Book Award, among others. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit

Click Here to visit the new
to learn more about the series,
including a village map,
character list, photos, videos,
a separate giveaway and more!

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill Blog Tour Schedule

December 5: Author Q&A on Pemberley to Milton
December 6: Excerpt on My Love for Jane Austen
December 8: Review on Laura's Reviews
December 9: Book Spotlight on More Agreeably Engaged
December 10: Review on A Bookish Way of Life
December 11: Review and Excerpt on Delighted Reader Book Reviews
December 12: British Show Inspiration Guest Post on Living Read Girl
December 13: Historical Background Guest Post on English Historical Fiction Authors
December 14: Review on The Calico Critic
December 15: Excerpt on So Little Time
December 16: Review and Author Q&A on My Jane Austen Book Club
December 17: Review on Just Jane 1813
December 18: Excerpt on Babblings of a Book Worm
December 19: Review on Austenesque Reviews
December 20: Guest Post on Jane Austen in Vermont
December 21: Review on Luxury Reading


Be sure to enter the giveaway before you leave—the winner will receive a $20 Teavana gift card and a package of four inspirational British romances from four different eras (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell, The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Not by Sight by Kate Breslin). The winner will be notified on December 22. 

You can also stop by the official Ivy Hill website and enter to win one of ten copies of the book. Entries accepted through January 6, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. There are too many British set books that I have absolutely adored that it is impossible to choose just one so I will choose my favorite movie. It is Shakespeare in Love. I love the time period and the acting was extraordinary. I watch this movie at lease once every few months.

  2. I love "Lark Rise to Candleford" because it was the first British TV series I loved, and it encouraged me to watch many more wonderful series.

  3. I think my all time favorite British book is Michele Magorian's Goodnight Mr. Tom. It is a young adult novel about a young boy included in the children's evacuation of London.While at times very hard to read, it is an awesome tale of hope,



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