Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful.
Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him–one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.
Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.
Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?
Bethany House | December 2015
With each new Julie Klassen book, my favorites list tends to get reshuffled. The Tutor’s Daughter is still firmly at the top of the pile but she has been given some healthy competition of late. Namely, The Secret of Pembrooke Park and Lady, Maybe… and now The Painter’s Daughter.
The Painter’s Daughter does not contain as much suspense (at least not the mysterious kind) as her last several books, but it is full of breathless romantic and situational tensions. My stars. There were moments I caught myself biting my nails, my stomach and heart twisted in knots for all involved, my purse-whomping side ready to go wield some reticules in defense of more than a couple of characters.
Can we just stop for a moment to appreciate Stephen? The classic brooding hero who buries his feelings and his emotions but when he chooses to unleash them – whew! Fan, please! Where’s my fainting couch? In fact, he reminded me in the best possible ways of Mr. Darcy.
Along those lines, Julie Klassen gives more of a nod in The Painter’s Daughter to the Janes – Eyre and Austen – than perhaps in any of her previous novels. Kate, who brought to mind one of the younger Bennet sisters (though far more endearing), gushes about this new novel she’s been reading – Sense and Sensibility. Sketches of scenes from Jane Eyre and hints of beloved lines from Sense as well as Pride and Prejudice make my fangirl heart swell with delight. Confession: I may have totally hugged the book at one point in sheer enjoyment of the playful honor she had bestowed upon our mutually-loved classics.
But deeper than the romance and the brilliantly clever writing, there is a message in The Painter’s Daughter that is not to be missed. It is not preachy. It is not pushy. It is instead painted into the landscape to be found by readers who perhaps need it. The message is two-fold. First – our actions have consequences, sometimes farther reaching than we ever dreamed. Second – God stands ready to extend mercy and forgiveness with open arms when we tire of fighting on our own. That is the masterpiece of grace. And one of Julie Klassen’s master works as well.
Bottom Line: As I always say when I talk about Julie Klassen’s books – if you love the Janes (Eyre and/or Austen), you need to be reading Julie Klassen. Never read one of her books before? The Painter’s Daughter is an excellent place to start. Exquisitely written & beautifully presented, it will take you through nearly every emotion imaginable until the very end when you may be tempted to hug it too 🙂 The Painter’s Daughter is certainly among my top 5 novels by Julie Klassen*, and I highly recommend it for you, too!
*In case you are wondering (because I totally would be lol)… my top 5 faves by Julie Klassen are (in no particular order after this first one) The Tutor’s Daughter, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, Lady Maybe, and now The Painter’s Daughter has nudged out The Silent Governess for a spot among the ranks. 😉
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Rating: 5 stars / Fantastic!
KissingBook Level: 5 / May be reduced to sticking your head in the freezer to recover from being an incoherent puddle on the floor.
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