Monday, January 3, 2011
The Girl in The Gatehouse
Title: The Girl in the Gatehouse
Author: Julie Klassen
Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret. Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?
I don't know about you, but when I was a young girl I always dreamed of being a princess in a castle and that is just the feeling I get when I look at the gatehouse on the cover of this book. In the author's note she says the one pictured is exactly the building she had in mind when writing the book. It's an amazing cover and setting.
Those dreamy ideas I had aren't what sends Mariah to the gatehouse though. Her family has sent her away in disgrace. One of the many things that makes this novel so great is how she reacts to her situation. Mariah doesn't sulk and throw a pity party for herself. She doesn't just concentrate her efforts on self preservation. She maintains her dignity and looks to the needs of those around her. She doesn't want a hand out - just a chance to make it and looks for ways to help people she meets in the poorhouse nearby as well.
Captain Bryant is intrigued by Mariah. She has helped him and seems like an intelligent person. He knows she's hiding something though and he doesn't like the idea that she would be lying to him. He's confused also because as much as he's drawn to Mariah, he has been waiting and planning to woo another woman who had been out of his reach before because he had been deemed "unworthy" of her. Now that he has made his fortune at sea, he's certain she'll change her mind.
This novel is not only my first for the year, but it is also my first to hit the list of favorites. The cast of characters was superb. Each of them taught me something and made it seem like real life instead of a show with only two stars. The loyal but gruff Dixon - who stayed with Mariah even into her exile, the mysterious man running about the poorhouse roof. He had honor, self-sacrifice, generosity and humility. Then we have Martin - the epitome of a surprise character. He really brings home the point about not judging people too quickly or by their appearances. Mr. Hart who had such strength despite his injury and refused pity. I could go on and on - but you really should meet them yourself.
This isn't just a romance either. There are a few mysteries throughout the book that have to be solved. Also, just like in real life, more than one couple is romantically linked. I thought it was the kind of story that kept you hooked from beginning to end both because the story was so interesting and because the people she populated the story with were so genuine that you cared what happened to them.
I have to mention one other thing I loved about the book. There are quotes at the beginning of each chapter and they are wonderful. Many of them are by Jane Austen. I kept running in to share them with my family as they rolled their eyes at me (they're men). They usually ended up laughing with me at the funny ones though. If you are at all a fan of this era of historical fiction I think you have to add this to your wish list. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Posted by Margaret Metz at 1:50 AM