The Tales from Ivy Hill series isn’t for everyone. It’s for those who are fans of or enjoy the regency era novels of Jane Austen, Fanny Burney, and Elizabeth Gaskell (ok, she’s probably post-Regency, but, anyway). Most fans of Regency romances are likely women, and it is curious to me that although both sexes are part of romances, it is women who seem, well, obsessed with them. Just in our nature, I guess. I’m not as insane at the main character in Austenland, but I’ve done some Regency memorabilia shopping and have even been to the Jane Austen museum in Bath, England. Tea there was lovely.
This series may also not be for everyone because it is slow almost to a fault. This is also true for Regency novels written at the time, but Ivy Hill has the benefit of multiple romances to keep one’s interest and doesn’t go on for chapters describing scenery–yes, I’m looking at you, Ann Radcliffe of Udolpho. The series is also nominally Christian lit, but not heavily so; still, it might turn some readers off. That being said, I love, love, love! this series and Julie Klassen, why are there only three books?!? Where is my fainting couch? A little to the right? Ah, there we go. One of the endpapers in the last book does advertise an Ivy Hill Christmas novella coming in the future, so that’s at least something.
So, what on earth is so great about this series? For me, the characters are all very realized and very well-rounded, and even though in real life not everyone gets a happy ending, in this book world the characters work out everything by faith, trust, honesty, and love, and the happy endings fit. It’s a cheery, fantasy world where nothing super bad really happens. Also, for some of the romances it’s a question of who the women will choose, so there’s a little suspense in that. The men are pretty much all dreamy, which is just as they should be. The one thing I’d say the series lacks is more humor, but not every author can make me laugh out loud like Fanny Burney, not even “dear Jane.” Tales from Ivy Hill would be a perfect book series for, say, the BBC to adapt into a TV series with several seasons–I mean series, because in Britain a show season is called a series–which is series-ly confusing.
Anyway, this is Julie Klassen at the peak of her skill, and I do hope she will keep on writing.