Monday, February 13, 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall - Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen is without a doubt one of my favorite authors.  Her experience is in publishing with Bethany House, where she originally worked in advertising and later as an editor for some of the best authors of women's Christian fiction.  I first saw her name in the thank you section of a book (yes, I read those) and was surprised and delighted when "The Lady of Milkweed Manor," her debut book, was released in January 2008.  That book easily ranks as one of my favorites to this day.  Since January 2008, once a year for every consecutive year Julie Klassen has released another excellent book.  I own every one of them.  If you haven't read these, I heartily recommend:
  • The Lady of Milkweed Manor (Jan 2008)
  • The Apothecary's Daughter (Jan 2009)
  • The Silent Governess (Jan 2010)
  • The Girl in the Gatehouse (Jan 2011)
  • The Maid of Fairbourne Hall (Jan 2012)
As with all of Julie Klassen's book, when it arrived I immediately set forth to read it uninterrupted nearly straight through.  I was not disappointed.  In fact, even with high expectations I was pleasantly surprised at the heart changes of the characters as they progressed through the story.  At no moment was this plot stagnant.
Now for the slight criticism.  I noticed that there was not a conclusion to the drowning instance.  Was this murder or simply an accident that Sterling made the most of?  As a reader, this minor detail really stirred my emotion.  I think it could have been played up more to show how extreme the antagonist was willing to go to secure the fortune for himself.  From the beginning of the book, there was never any question that Sterling was an evil man, but this evil was only evident in his initial advice to his nephew.  While his attitude of greed was shameful, the addition of murder would have sent this over the top.  Toward the end when Margaret returned to the house to speak with Sterling, and we learned that no one else was home, my pulse raced with alarm as I worried for her physical safety.  A dramatic rescue scene would have been an exciting ending to this novel as well as a strong conclusion to Sterling's life -- prison.  I was pleased with the conclusion to his nephew's situation and felt it was in proportion to his own character's decisions.  I also was very pleased with the decisions that Margaret's mother made toward the end of the novel.  
As always, Julie Klassen's book was very well written.  Her experience as an editor for the foremost publisher of women's Christian fiction has equipped her to become a powerful author herself.  I just hope she doesn't make us wait another twelve months before the release of her sixth book.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my unbiased review.