Monday, December 14, 2015

"The Painter's Daughter" by Julie Klassen - a story of moral failure, consequences, and grace

Cover ArtInitially cherished by an enamored gentleman painter, Sophie Dupont  is abruptly abandoned unwed and pregnant while he flits off to Italy in pursuit of his muse. The same day he leaves, his responsible younger brother shows up in pursuit. Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to fixing his brother's messes, but this time he surprises even himself by offering his name to save Sophie from scandal. Will her beloved Wesley return in time to salvage her reputation? Or should give up her love by pledging her life to his brother?

Klassen is an excellent storyteller. She takes life in all its painful messiness--people's failures, mistakes, foolish choices--and shows that redemption is possible. She never glorifies a person's moral failures--they always have consequences. But there is always room for grace, even for people you might want to push over a cliff.

Growth and character development are not limited to the main characters (nor, for that matter, are secrets). Even the secondary characters see change over the course of the novel. For instance, I didn't care for Lt. Keith at first, but because he pursues change for his life, by the end I was completely won to his side.

While reading the story, I couldn't help but at times feel the romance wasn't quite safe . . . like in The Apothecary's Daughter and Lady Maybe, there were times in which I couldn't quite be certain who the heroine would end up with. I knew who I wanted her to be with--who I was pretty sure she SHOULD be with--but there was just enough of a seed of doubt that I couldn't be completely certain. And when the story is balanced so precariously, there is no option but to finish it!

I like the slightly Gothic touch to the story--it isn't as strong as some of her previous novels, but it is definitely present. That touch of mystery and slightly ominous feel that not everything is as it seems . . . Excellent, as always. 5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you Bethany House for providing a free book for review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.

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