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The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

by Julie Klassen

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Another fantastic novel from Julie Klassen! Wonderful, flawed, believable characters living, loving and learning. Even the fact that not everything is neatly tied up with a bow at the end makes the book that much better. ( )
  TikaMajere | May 31, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill – Julie Klassen – 4.5 * - 10/13/2016
Klassen, who is known for her historical romance novels, has branched out with this book to a rural village saga, which is intended to span several books. Set in Victorian England, it is somewhat reminiscent of Gaskell’s Cranford novels, or Lawanna Blackwell’s Gresham Chronicles.
In this book, we meet Jane Bell, a young widow who has inherited The Bell coaching Inn upon the death of her husband roughly a year prior to the opening of the book. She has been raised, and encouraged by her late husband, to be genteel, and completely dependent on the men in her life, and has been totally unprepared for the task of running an inn. To this point, she has retreated and left the inn to more or less run itself in the hands of its employees, and the lack of care is showing. Her brother-in-law has returned from abroad to help run the inn, but he has something of a scapegrace reputation and his motives are unclear. At the outset of the book, Jane’s mother-in-law, Thora, also returns to the Inn. An active, brusque and intelligent woman, Thora was raised to innkeeping (the inn was originally her father’s) and had pretty much run it singlehandedly after the death of her husband until her late son was old enough to take it over. Hurt when her son left the inn to his (in her view) incompetent wife to run, she had left to live with a sister, but upon the sister’s marriage, returns to the Inn. The Bells learn rather suddenly that there is an large loan outstanding against the Inn taken out by the late John Bell, and that the Inn is in jeopardy of closing.
As the story develops, the questions are: Will Jane rise to the occasion and learn to take charge of the Inn and her future? Will Thora put aside her hurt and prejudices and learn to work with Jane as family? Will Thora also move past her adamant refusal to ever wed again, and realize that two men she knew from her time at Ivy Hill are thrilled that she is back and would like to be more to her than friends? There are also several threads introduced about the past of Jane and the people she grew up with that are unresolved, and left to be explored in subsequent books as the series develops.
Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable and satisfying read. The main conflict, whether the Inn can be saved, and what Jane really wants to do with her life, is satisfactorily resolved, as is Thora’s quandary, so the book does not feel like a cliff hanger, but there is enough left open to make me want to come back for more. Although this is an inspirational novel, these themes are handled with a deft hand and light touch, so the novel should have broad appeal. I look forward to the next installment of the Ivy Hill story.
An advanced copy of this novel was provided to me in exchange for a review. No effort was made to influence my opinion, which is mine alone. ( )
  tealadytoo | Mar 13, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Widowed Jane Bell never wanted to run a coaching inn, but her husband left the entire concern to her in his will. Now, the inn is struggling to make a profit, and her banker informs Jane that her husband took out a sizeable loan shortly before his death, and the note is coming due. Unless she can improve the inn's profits and make a case for extending the loan terms, the inn will pass out of her hands. Her charming brother-in-law is on hand to help -- or does he have ulterior motives? Her irascible mother-in-law Thora returns to lend a hand -- but can Thora and Jane get along, or will their arguments just make things worse? And what about the enigmatic Mr. Drake, who seems very interested in the inn . . . and Jane?

This is the first book in a series, so the pacing is a little different than I expected. There are multiple featured characters with potential romantic story lines, and only one of those is resolved in this book. The main thrust of the plot here is Jane's business troubles, and whether she will be able to keep and run the inn. Readers who enjoy historical fiction featuring life in quaint English villages will enjoy this -- it's very reminiscent of one of my old favorites, The Widow of Larkspur Inn. I'll probably continue to read in this series, in order to see how things turn out for the other characters. ( )
  foggidawn | Nov 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen is the first book of a series the author will add to in the near future. This book has come out in 2016. After reading the ARC copy, I have already enjoyed the sense of community and have become acquainted with a few of Ivy Hill's residents. I'm looking forward to seeing how their lives, challenges and loves come to fruition.

It's the early 1800's in Wiltshire, England. In many small villages the coaching inn was the hub of commerce and the lifeblood of most local businesses, creating a natural interdependence. At the opening of the story, the Bell Inn of Ivy Hill was in trouble. John Bell, the innkeeper, had died leaving the Inn in his young wife's ill-suited and incompetent hands. He had married a fine lady, leaving her with an albatross hanging around her neck. The burning question in the tale was whether Jane Bell could become a genuine Innkeeper, pay back an unexpected large loan to the local bank (there's a mystery surrounding that loan), learn to work with her stern mother-in-law and reckless brother-in-law, while not destroying the economy of the entire town.

There were two characters I got to know well during the course of the story. Jane Fairmont Bell, now the landlady, and Thora Stonehouse Bell, Jane's husband's mother. Both women were widowed, tied to the Inn and wary of each other. The author chose to develop both of them side by side, but worlds apart from each other by personality, perspective and attitudes. I like how the author worked them against each other and at times with each other. Both of them seemed to be equal Protagonists while outside forces and circumstances were the actual Antagonist. In Thora, the author produces a character we love to hate...and warms her up. Julie Klassen then gets to transform Jane from powderpuff to powerhouse. Kudos to the author for such a great process for this duo.

While the character development was slow and steady all throughout the plot, making it seem to plod in some places, there are numerous subplots to keep up interest and the pace. The events turn nearly suspenseful because you actually can't predict the outcome for the Inn and consequently the town until the final few pages. The author certainly knows how to build a solid sense of community using these subplots. It's my favorite part of the book. Many of these threads are left unresolved because there is more to come in this series. I can't wait to see how Julie Klassen develops the village in her future books.

Finally, there is just a touch of romance as the author dangles not one, but two suitors for each of her main characters. I'm not going to say anything else about this, as all works out well for one of them in the end. For the other, well, we'll have to read the next book, won't we?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from LibraryThing and Bethany House. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." ( )
  Beverlylynnt | Oct 24, 2017 |
I know when I open one of Ms. Klassen’s books I can be sure I am in for a good read! This novel is proof again! The setting is Wiltshire, England, 1820. Jane was suddenly widowed a year ago when her husband was in an accident. He ran a family inn named, the Bell. She had no part in the business but thanks to the laws, suddenly finds herself proprietor and owner. She knows nothing about running such an establishment and has no desire to. The Inn means everything to her mother-in-law, Thora Bell, as it belonged to her parents. Thora moves back to the Bell in hopes of helping out. To make a sticky situation even worse, Thora has never really liked her daughter-in-law. Her brother-in-law, Patrick, also resides there and has his own agenda for the Bell. The inn is in great need of repairs and deep in debt. At first she feels she has no choice but to manage the inn has she has no other means of income. Later she realizes that is about more than just her, and the success of it affects many lives. I overwhelmed for Jane in all she had to learn and do. I found it very interesting the workings and running such a business in that era, it was hard! Definitely not like our Holiday Inns now!
She sets goals to bring new life to the business but not without opposition from some. Without finances this certainly seems impossible. I admired Jane’s perseverance even in the face of resistance and insurmountable odds. There are mysteries concerning her husband’s death she wants to solve in addition to her mounting responsibilities.
The book has a wonderful cast of complex characters that the author brings to life in detail and personality. This makes it a very in-depth story. There are many surprises, twists and turns on different levels and within each characters life. I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next sequel.
I was provided a review copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. ( )
  Mizroady | Mar 22, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0764218131, Paperback)

First Series from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen!

The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to 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 find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora's wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them--and her future--in a different light.

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love?

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 09 Aug 2016 18:56:58 -0400)

When her husband dies suddenly, Jane Bell becomes the reluctant landlady of The Bell, an inn in the village of Ivy Hill. 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 mother-in-law, Thora, for help.… (more)

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