Living with the two Miss Groves in Ivy Cottage, impoverished gentlewoman Rachel Ashford is determined to earn her own livelihood … somehow.

When the village women encourage her to open a subscription library with the many books she has inherited or acquired through donations, Rachel discovers two mysteries hidden among them.

A man who once broke her heart helps her to search for clues, but will both find more than they bargained for?

Rachel’s friend and hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and fills her days managing her girls school.

So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what — or who — has captured each man’s attention? The truth might surprise them all.

Meanwhile, life has improved at the coaching inn and Jane Bell is ready to put grief behind her. Now if only the man she misses would return — but where is he?

As the women of Ivy Hill search for answers about the past and hope for the future, might they find love along the way?

Ivy Cottage review

There is nothing better than a well-written village chronicle hearkening back to Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford or Miss Read’s Thrush Green.

When Julie Klassen announced she would be penning a series in a Regency-era English village, I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to see what she came up with.

This first novel, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, was released last December, and when I closed the book, I knew that the wait for the next installment would be excruciating — and it was!

I started reading The Ladies of Ivy Cottage the second it arrived in my mailbox, more than ready to return to Ivy Hill and its inhabitants.

Once again, we are allowed to live beside the women of the village and it is such a treat.

This novel is even more of an ensemble piece than Innkeeper, giving you an even deeper look into the lives and feelings of Rachel Ashford and Mercy Grove.

Ivy Cottage is not a fast-paced novel, but the depth of the relationships are what really move it forward.

These novels are a wonderful look at friendship — the women make mistakes and have misunderstandings, but they forgive and are there for each other when there is a need.

Several smaller characters are given more of a story line in this book and it definitely made for an enjoyable addition.

While I enjoyed watching Rachel’s story unfold — it was the central focus of this novel — I also found Mercy’s unfolding story just as compelling and I am really looking forward to the installment that focuses on her.

With its themes of friendship, forgiveness, relying on God and being open to accepting the help of others woven organically throughout, Ivy Cottage packs an emotional punch.

Klassen once again has demonstrated why she is an award-winning author.

With a dash of mystery, a dollop of romance and a whole lot of friendship, this is a definite must-read for fans of Klassen’s previous novels, such as The Secret of Pembrooke Park, as well as fans of Roseanna M. White, Kristi Ann Hunter and Sarah E. Ladd.

About Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane — Jane Eyre and Jane Austen.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, Klassen worked in publishing for 16 years and now writes full-time.

Three of her books — The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall — have won the Christy Award for historical romance.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction.

Klassen also has won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and has been a finalist for both Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Awards.

Klassen and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.