Her Good Name By Ruth Axtell

Her Good Name is more than just a superbly entertaining novel; it holds spiritual truths that are important to remember. Social boundaries were heavily drawn even in the late 1800’s when this story takes place. The wealthy worked hard to keep their group elite and unspotted by those of lesser means. This is the situation Espy Estrada and Warren Brentwood found themselves in.
Espy was a beautiful and intelligent daughter of an American mother and Portuguese fisherman. She had her 11 siblings lived in poverty. After an accident her father had developed a serious drinking problem to the point he was rarely at home. It fell to Espy and her older sister to support the family. Her dreams for an education had been cut short.
Warren on the other hand came from a wealthy family that had given him the best education possible. They had his life planned out to take over the family business and marry the girl (of course an aristocrat) of their choice. He had been taught since he was young that this was his destiny. Although he felt obligated to comply with his parent’s wishes, he was made of a different cloth than his family. He was kind and compassionate and saw value in people no matter what their station.
Espy had liked him since they attended grammar school together many years ago. He had just returned to their hometown from college and she finds ways to run into him on a daily basis. Warren is shocked at the beautiful young woman she has become and the strange affect being near her brings.
They are suddenly thrown together when their pastor asks Warren to start a youth group to bring young people back into the church and proposes Espy be his assistant. They become very excited about bringing both the wealthy and the working class together not only to learn God’s Word but also to help the poor in the community. Alas, trying to combine the two social groups is like mixing oil and water. In spite of the difficulties, Espy’s enthusiasm, energy, and positive attitude are encouraging and impressive to Warren. His family is very upset at him having any type of interaction with her. He becomes torn between his growing feelings for her and his family’s expectations.
Espy feels she is moving up in the world when Mrs. Stockton, the wife of a respected local high school professor hires her on as housekeeper. Espy knows Mr. Stockton has a large library and hopes to be able to read some of his books. Unfortunately the professor has other motives and his wife catches him making inappropriate advances on Espy. Rather than tell the truth they spread lies about her and she becomes shunned by the entire town including Warren. She can stand it no more and moves to a nearby town where she lives with a missionary and his wife. God begins to work in both their lives in amazing ways.
The author beautifully illustrates truths in God’s Word warning us not to judge others by how things appear. I loved Espy’s strength in facing such condemnation and as she grew spiritually, allowing God to defend her good name. I admired Warren’s strength in choosing to please God no matter who he might displease, even those closest to him. Two scriptures that this story brought to mind were:
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
Isaiah 54:17
And of course, A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1
I was also very impressed that although this was a romance novel, it was written very clean and purely. An excellent book!
“I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review.”

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

I loved, loved, loved this book! That’s one of the things I really like about historical fiction, you always learn something new! I knew very little about English boarding schools run by families in their home during the 1800’s. The author’s wonderful detail of day to day life and what education was like during that time was fascinating.
Emma Smallwood helped her father run one such boarding school, Smallwood Academy, for young boys during this time. The death of her mother sent her father in to depression. As he lost all interest in teaching and acquiring new students, Emma became very concerned about how not only how they would support themselves but that they could also possibly lose everything. She remembered the Weston family who had five years earlier enrolled their two sons, Henry and Phillip in her father’s school. Using her father’s name, she contacts Mr. Giles Weston concerning the opportunity to teach his younger sons Rowan and Julian. Mr. Weston sends a requesting the come to his estate, Ebbington Manor, and teach they boys. She wasn’t expecting to leave their home and was even more surprised when her father is excited by the prospect and accepts the offer!
Henry and Philip Weston, their former students have grown in to handsome men. Emma is stuck in the past by still viewing them as they were when they boarded with them as young boys and she a young girl. Henry was a prankster and always tormenting her. Phillip had shown kindness and that gave her a soft spot for him. Upon arrival Emma finds the manor intimidating and isolated as sits high on a cliff overlooking the windy coast. Not long after they settle in, things that can only be described as supernatural and very disturbing begin to occur. Some speak of the Manor being haunted, something Emma definitely does not believe in, but how can these things be explained? At first she thinks Henry is up to his old tricks. When she realizes he isn’t she wonders, how then can these things be explained? Emma shows great courage in seeking answers and makes startling discoveries of family secrets, even to the point of pointing herself in danger. To complicate matters and much against her will she finds herself drawn to one of older sons.
Emma is also comes face to face with her rejection of God since her mother’s death. Many of her experiences and the straightforward faith of all people, Henry Weston, help her realize she cannot live her life apart from the Lord.
Ms. Klassen’s writing was so very descriptive that it was as if I was walking through the halls and grounds of the Manor with Emma. The anticipation at times in almost unbearable! Nothing is as it seems and the surprises are totally unexpected. That is why I kept reading and reading when I should have gone to bed!
Fiction, history, romance, mystery, and suspense, what more could you ask from a book. This one has it all. You will definitely want to read The Tutor’s Daughter!
I received this book free from Bethany House Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.