Book Review: The Girl In The Gatehouse

9 Apr

Mariah Aubrey lives in seclusion in an abandoned gatehouse on a distant relative’s estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant by writing novels in secret, at a time when novel writing was considered improper and unladylike. When wealthy and ambitious Captain Bryant leases the estate, he is intrigued by the beautiful girl in the gatehouse. Will he risk his plans—and his heart—for a woman shadowed by scandal?

Julie Klassen:  In Her Own Words:

I am a fiction editor and novelist who loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. I have been writing since childhood, but Lady of Milkweed Manor was my first novel. It was a finalist for a Christy Award and won second place in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards. My second novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, was a finalist in the ACFW Book of the Year awards. My third, The Silent Governess, won a 2010 Christy Award and was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and the RITA Awards.

I graduated from the University of Illinois and enjoy travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. My husband and I have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.

My Impressions:

Filled with Regency manners and gothic elements, The Girl in The Gatehouse is part romance, part mystery, part story of God’s forgiveness.  Mariah Aubrey has been exiled from her family. Forced to make her own way, Mariah turns to the shameful employment of novel writing to keep herself and companion, Miss Dixon, from suffering the fate of their neighbors in the poor house. Shunned by polite society and weighted under shame and grief, Mariah does her best to befriend and help those around her.   Included in her unlikely acquaintance are poor house residents, a one armed manservant, and a Royal Navy Captain looking to insert himself into the society from which Mariah has been banished.  Add to this secret treasure, a mysterious man on the poor house roof, and Mariah’s own shady past, and you have a book that will appeal to  lovers of Jane Austen and Jane Eyre.

The Girl in The Gatehouse is this month’s discussion pick of the Christian Fiction Book Club hosted by Edgy Inspirational Romance.   Bloggers will be reviewing and answering discussion questions about Klassen’s book.  To join in the fun, just click HERE.



** Spoiler Alert **

Answers to the discussion questions may contain plot spoilers.

Virtue and Vice — 1800s v. today

Mariah was caught in a very compromising situation.  Although deceived by her suitor, Mariah chose to participate. Today, this behavior would be considered normal.  The world would say — Whoever heard of people waiting for their wedding night? But premarital sex is definitely a no-no in God’s eyes.  Yet there is no sin too big to be forgiven.  In Mariah’s situation, her punishment is extreme by today’s standards.  Would we really cast off a child for having sex before marriage?

In the 1800s there was a line of propriety that one was expected not to cross.  To do so, would have dire results — at least if you were a woman.  A man had little repercussions.  Today virtue is often sneered at.  You are called a prude, if not worse.  And the consequences of violating God’s commands (in worldly terms) seemingly do not exist.   But of course, there are always consequences.  Girls today face the same gossip and criticism Mariah endured.  And grief and shame can linger for years and years.

Forgiveness is what seems in short supply these days, as it was in Mariah’s time.  But thankfully, we have a gracious, loving and merciful God that will forgive any sin and better yet forget it!  Miss Dixon repeatedly tries to tell Mariah this.  But just like us, Mariah’s feelings of being unworthy get in the way.

I think Julie Klassen handled Mariah’s character very well.  Here is a young woman who made a mistake, large though it was.  She is sorry and is sure she will never make that mistake again.  Yet those around her won’t let her forget it.  (I think we all know how that feels!)  Mariah has good days and bad, but doesn’t have real peace until she experiences the healing forgiveness of God.  (I was glad to see others forgive Mariah as well.)

My Favorite Character

My favorite minor character had to be Martin.  He is described as odd in our first glimpse of him. His physical limitations are duly noted.  Yet Martin had an inner beauty — especially in his treatment of Maggie, the young orphan in the poor house — that became apparent to those around him.  Martin could easily have been a caricature rather than character.  And he definitely became integral to the  plot.


Don’t forget to check out what others are saying about The Girl in The Gatehouse.



Book Discussion Schedule

May 21- Words by Ginny Yttrup
Host: TBD

July 2- Pompeii by TL Higley
Host: TBD

August 13- Digitalis by Ronie Kendig
Host: TBD

September 24- The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund
Host: TBD

November 5- Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen
Host: TBD


December 17- She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell
Host: TBD


Want to participate?

1. Secure a copy of the book club pick and read it before the discussion date.

2. Find the reading group guide in the back of the book or on the publisher’s website. Choose one or more of the discussion questions to address in a blog post. You might also want to include a short review of the book.

3. Schedule your blog post to run on the discussion date. You may copy and use the book club logo above if you’d like.

4. On the discussion date, the host will run his/her review and answer a few discussion questions. The host will also include a MckLinky at the bottom so bloggers can link their posts.

5. On the discussion date, we all hop around reading and commenting on the reviews and opinions of participating bloggers.

6. If you do not have a blog of your own, you can share your opinions about the book club pick in the comment sections of other blogs.

7. Have you already read our book club picks? Great, participate anyway! You’ll have a head start answering some of the questions!

5 Responses to “Book Review: The Girl In The Gatehouse”

  1. gravesok April 9, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    You picked two of the questions that I picked! Martin became one of my favorite characters also. I liked your review!

  2. Joy @ Edgy Inspirational Romance April 9, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Wow! Great analysis!

    You are so right, I can’t imagine casting off a child after they did something wrong. There would certainly be a lot of cast offs these days wouldn’t there?

  3. Bookworm1858 April 9, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I really liked Martin too! At first I was worried by him as was Mariah, but he’s just such a good person and so important to the book.

  4. Renee Ann April 9, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    I read your about page–so glad that God returned your eyesight! And I totally agree about the type of books we choose to read. I came to a similar conclusion (and probably had been reading similar books) myself. This is a great in-depth discussion. I must admit I didn’t think I’d like this book, but it charmed me–as did Martin. He ended up being a gem! Love your blog! Blessings!

  5. Kara @ Home With Purpos April 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    I love your thoughts! I really enjoyed the book, and loved Martin too. 🙂

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