This is my first visit to Ivy Hill, and I am looking forward to my next visit. Although I entered this series in book two of the Tales From Ivy Hill series, it worked quite well as a stand-alone read. I don’t believe too much was revealed to spoil my going back and reading book one. I am actually quite intrigued to discover what previously occurred between Jane Bell and Gabrielle Locke, as well as to learn what motivated the change in Jane’s mother-in-law, Thora. Klassen does a good job of balancing closure in this book with leaving enough of the plot line open to motivate her reader to read book three.
Themes in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage deal with the struggle to ask for help from others, and maybe even from God. While the story is set in 1820’s England, this struggle may be even more prevalent in today’s society that values independence, self-reliance, and pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps. The book also deals with the importance of truth: the sometimes-high cost of truth, the fact that truth always has a way of coming out, and the strength of character that is displayed when one deals with a hard truth in a way that pleases and glorifies God. This too is a theme that is pertinent to modern living as we are daily faced in mainstream media and social media with discerning truth, holding our leaders to the truth, and behaving truthfully in our own lives even when the cost may be quite high.
The main characters in this book are endearing. The three central characters inn keeper Jane Bell, school teacher Mercy Grove, and librarian Rachel Ashford now all working for a living were once ladies of nobility. They are evidence of changing times in England, as are their friendships with secondary characters that cross social boundaries. Changes, even positive ones, take time to accept by people of both genders and across all walks of life. This is evidenced by the reaction and interaction of characters throughout this story, as it is probably evidenced in each of our own lives.
I recommend The Ladies of Ivy Cottage to historical fiction fans, they will likely be intrigued by the information on subscription or circulating libraries, forerunners of today’s public libraries, that is woven into the story. I also recommend it to fans of romantic fiction, and of course to those who love Christian fiction. I thank NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation.