Tuesday, April 22, 2014

'The Tutor's Daughter' by Julie Klassen

The Tutor's Daughter
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?

Emma Smallwood's widowed father is offered the private job of tutoring Sir Giles Weston's two youngest sons, Rowan and Julian. She accompanies him to Ebbington Manon to assist him, full of nerves at the idea of encountering the twins' older brothers, who had both attended the Smallwood's academy in the past. She looks forward to catching up with Phillip, who she had a crush on, but dreads seeing Henry, who used to tease and pull pranks on her. Little does she know all that's in store for her at the Weston family's cliff side mansion. Strange nocturnal visits, anonymous notes pushed beneath her door and the theft of her private journal.

I loved this book for many reasons. There's nothing like an intriguing historical novel with a cup of tea for a bit of luxury. This one had elements of Jane Austen and the Brontes. It also made me think of Daphne DuMaurier's classic, "Jamaica Inn" with its shipwrecks along the treacherous Cornish coast and the unscrupulous 'wreckers' who took advantage of their situation. It was the ideal setting for extreme villainy and heroism.

I felt as if I knew and understood each of the characters, even the not so likeable ones. I was delighted when the story ended with a marriage proposal from the man who was so clearly right for Emma, but I'd love to know how his stepmother took the news, and his brothers. Coming back to the twenty-first century was a bit of a rude jolt so I took the chance to re-read the story over again, to pick up the significance of some the happenings which were shrouded with mystery the first time through.

5 stars
 Tutor's Daughter, The, available from Amazon

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