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.