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Book Review: The Girl In The Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

The year is 1813 and early autumn. Mariah Aubrey and her former nanny Miss Dixon have said a tearful but swift goodbye to her parents and younger sister Julia. By carriage they travel for 2 days until they reach sheep country and then a village named Whitmore. Just outside of town lies the 17th Century English manor house named Windrush Court. Aubrey's aunt Fran, or as she is called now Mrs. Prin-Hallsey, has given permission for Aubrey and Miss Dixon to "take refuge" in the gatehouse. The gatehouse is small, dusty, and in "disrepair." The house is "built of Cotswold stone and has twin turreted towers." It takes much polish and scrubbing to make the house a home to be lived in. With the gatehouse comes a much needed mouser named Chaucer. Across the road from the gatehouse is the derelict poorhouse. It is an ominous and grim building. Mariah is a young woman in her early 20's. She has been forced to leave home because of something she was involved in that has now tarnished her reputation. Throughout most of the book the reader is only given hints at what had happened to Mariah. Meanwhile Naval Captain Matthew Bryant becomes the new renter of the manor house. He and Mariah become friends, yet each of them have a past they are trying to reconcile with.

I read this book immediately after finishing The Maid of Fairbourne Hall also by Julie Klassen. Both of these books I enjoyed reading immensely!

Mariah is a character with a different story than most of the characters I've read with a similar background or environment. It is true she was raised in a wealthy home with household staff that cared for her every need. But, she rises to her situation in learning those things she'd not been taught before, because she had been a "lady." I admired her resilience facing an unknown future with a well-known disreputable reputation.   
The culture of Mariah's era was that a young woman had to maintain her reputation in order to marry well. There were no other options for a woman, you married and had children. A woman was provided for by her father and then by her husband. It really was a man's world. In Mariah's character and story I could better understand a young womans lack of choice and predicament.
I love England, all things England. I loved the description of the gatehouse and the manor house. I loved reading any bit of information about the countryside.
When I was first introduced to Mrs. Prin-Hallsey I did not like her repugnant attitude at all. Although as the story progressed I grew to like the mystery behind the "twinkle in her eye."
The Girl in the Gatehouse is less about Christian " fill-in words" and more about love and forgiveness displayed in action. I loved this point most of all. We are all fallen people in need of redemption, none of us are without fault--without sin. Mariah, like all of us needs the response from the Christian community of love and forgiveness.

Thank you to Bethany House and An Open Book for my free review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Published January 2011 by Bethany House 
Historical Fiction/19th Century/England/Romance
400 pages

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Paperback $10.49
eBook $7.59