The Sisters of Sea View: On Devonshire Shores (Book 1), by Julie Klassen — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Upon my first reading of a Julie Klassen book, I was struck by many wonderful thoughts. Among them was how obvious was the love the author had for Jane Austen, attentiveness to historical elements, masterful character development, and that special sparkle to her writing that draws in a reader. This early impression has stuck with me through many new releases, and I discovered was still true in this latest, The Sisters of Sea View.

First Line

“Sarah Summers carefully lifted the family heirloom, a warm mantle of nostalgia settling over her.” Loc 89

Mourning Must Make Way for Earning a Living

The tale begins with four Summers sisters: dutiful and practical Sarah, bookish and lovely Emily, musical and reclusive Viola, intrepid and capable Georgie, and their invalid mother discovering not long after their move to Sidmouth, and the death of Mr. Summers, that they can no longer live as genteel women without employment. Not wishing to be dispersed to separately make a living, they heed their friend’s idea to open their home to paying guests. 

Sarah Takes Charge

Mrs. Summers can barely rise from her bed so Sarah, the responsible oldest daughter left at home, will take on the lion’s share. Sarah lays it out that they must all learn inn keeping and manual labor. Sarah is the first to roll up her sleeves learning to bake, make-up rooms, and do the books. She sets aside her double grief for a lost fiancé and father, and her feelings about the oldest sister who is far from them all, to do what she does best, which is care for her family and their home. Sarah is surprised when the arrival of a Scottish widower and his daughter makes her lonely heart start beating again, even when Callum Henshall’s mysterious actions make her suspicious.

Emily Touts the Inn

Emily markets their inn in the newspapers, handles the correspondence, tidies, cleans, and acts as hostess with Sarah. She is determined to catch the notice of the author who writes the glowing descriptions of places to see, do, and stay in Sidmouth. As she learns to accept their new circumstances, she tries to put aside her pining for the young man who acted interested in her and then suddenly acted coldly toward her. Now, she is faced with yet more lessons about love with a certain handsome lodger.

Viola Beards a Major in His Den

“When Viola looked into the mirror, the flaws were all she saw. To her, the vertical scar was lasting evidence of her childhood deformity, and the misshapen lip ugly.” Loc 478

Born with a cleft palette, Viola went through intensive and painful procedures from multiple physicians and surgeons. She has received the scorn and fear of uninformed superstitious people. Now, she hides her face behind a veil and recuses herself with anyone besides family. Since she will not see to guests of the inn, Viola has a few private clients that she goes and reads to. One is brooding, cranky Major Hutton recovering from wounds sustained in India leaving scars from the fire and gunshot wounds that more than match her own. Viola and the Major learn to see past their looks together.

Early Days at the Inn

“Mr. and Mrs. Elton, you are very welcome.”… “A very fine house indeed,” Mrs. Elton said. “I am extremely pleased with it. You may believe me. I never compliment.” Loc 1061

Ah, yes, the persnickety Mrs. Elton (yes, of Jane Austen’s Emma fame) and her nearly silent husband, Callum Henshall and his brooding stepdaughter Effie, single and handsome Mr. Stanley, old and lonely blind Mr. Hornbeam, and just as lonely Mr. Gwilt and his stuffed parrot all make up the inn’s first guests. With the varied circumstances and personalities, the Summers learn to cater to their needs and make the inn a welcome refuge. Slowly the sisters find they have strength and skills they didn’t know they possessed as they more than accept their circumstances. Blossoming, actually.

Within the town of Sidmouth, they form acquaintances and forge friendships. Viola finds fulfillment in giving back at the poor house with the older residents. But something about their oldest sister’s past looms over the family. The secret is revealing itself slowly.

Time to Bid Sea View Farewell

“On the south coast of Devonshire, there lived four sisters. Sisters who never stopped thinking about, and longing for, the fifth, lost to them, but God willing, not forever…” Loc 6892

The Sisters of Sea View closed at a good place in an ongoing story of sisterhood and found family where character growth, relationship development, and plot was built to leave off at the perfect place. This was the first book and acted as a well-formed introduction to the Regency world of seaside resort town and characters of the series alternatively narrated by the three sisters, Sarah, Emily and Viola.

A Sensational New Series Opener 

Some story arcs were finished such as a romance for one of the sisters, and the Callum Henshall mystery resolved, while others are ongoing, and there were hints to what is coming in future installments. I like the idea that the story closed when the first guests at the inn have finished their stay. We now await to see what the new guests will bring for the sisters who have come so far already. I finished this with the same rested, satisfied feeling I get after a glorious pleasure holiday to the sea with family. Do pack your trunk and send your reservation for this sensational new series opener.

5 out of 5 Stars


INTERVIEW WITH JULIE KLASSEN

Read out exclusive interview with Julie Klassen in which she shares insights into her inspiration for the On Devonshire Shores series and the first novel, Sisters of Sea View, characters and storyline, her research into Sidmouth, and what up next in her writing career. 

BOOK INFORMATION

  • The Sisters of Sea View: On Devonshire Shores (Book 1), by Julie Klassen
  • Bethany House Publishers (December 6, 2022)
  • Hardcover, trade paperback, & eBook (448) pages
  • ISBN: 978-0764234262
  • Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction

AMAZON | BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS | ADD TO GOODREADS

We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Cover image courtesy of Bethany House © 2022; text Sophia Rose © 2022, austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate.

13 thoughts on “The Sisters of Sea View: On Devonshire Shores (Book 1), by Julie Klassen — A Review

Add yours

  1. Lovely review, Sophia. Julie is such a talented writer. I always enjoy her characters and stories. I think it is interesting that Mr. and Mrs. Elton visit the inn. It is nice nod to Jane Austen who holidayed in Sidmouth with her family 1801. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Thanks again for your thoughtful review.

    Like

  2. I would have found it enjoyable until the mention of Viola’s congenital disability–the cleft palate/lip story was truly unnecessary and triggering, just from the description and quote. If one has not been born with maxillofacial splits, one should not write about them. Ableist language does not belong in historical fiction.

    denise

    Like

  3. What a lovely review Sophia! I have been curious about this author, and always on the lookout for good Christian historical fiction and love all the elements you described and great disability rep too it sounds like.

    Liked by 1 person

Please join in and have your share of the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: