Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter, Julie Klassen

This review is part of a book review program with Bethany House. The Bethany House book review program is simple: I request a book from the links they send via email, then I read the book they send and write a review on this blog and a retailer’s site (such as Amazon). If this sounds like something that interests you, you can get more information and/or sign up here:

(Photo from Julie Klassen's website:

Emma Smallwood is (as the title of the book suggests) a widowed tutor's daughter. When her father receives a request from a noble family for private tutoring for the family's two younger boys, Emma packs her trunk full of books (and a few clothes, I suppose) and heads off to help her father in this new teaching enterprise.

But a stormy past with one of the two older brothers, a strange love interest (perhaps) with another of the older brothers, mysterious happenings, and ill-concealed secret keeping make Emma's time away from home more danger-fraught than she could possibly have imagined.

The back of the book ends its summary by saying "Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits."

If you want to see the trailer to the book (though I do not recommend it, as it's rather badly put together and acted out in my opinion), you can find it here:

Okay, so maybe you've picked up on the fact that I wasn't overly thrilled with this book. I started reading and almost quit around page 90 or so. By that point, I had pretty much figured out what was going to happen at the end of the book with a few small, yet notable (and spoiler-ridden) exceptions.

I'm not going to post any spoilers here, but there was one piece to the puzzle I hadn't guessed at that surprised me (hint: it starts with an "A"). One point, out of the whole book = not impressed.

Klassen's characters are frankly uninteresting, semi-two dimensional, and not-very-real. I didn't really believe in the characters as "real" people, there was something missing ... there wasn't a lot of depth to them that intrigued me. They improved a bit as I kept reading, but not in any notable way, unfortunately.

The story line was predictable and tame - I expected a bit more from all the raving reviews I've heard about Klassen and the blurb on the back cover. Before I reached page 100 (as I mentioned earlier), I had figured out most of the book and any twists and/or turns Klassen could have thrown on the page (there was a sad lack of twists and turns, unfortunately). I was a bit disappointed on that front.

I would rate this (on a 1-10 low/high scale) at about 5. Klassen has talent, but I didn't see her whole potential on the page with this book. Her developing lead female character gets her bonus points, but still isn't what I would call a strong character. The dialogue was intriguing at a few points in the book, but most of it was fairly ordinary and (dare I say it?) mostly dull. The plot was predictable, tame, and (again) fairly ordinary. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone looking for suspense, drama, romance, or a good mystery.