About four and a half years ago, I received a review book from an author I’d never heard of
before. But, the premise sounded intriguing, so I gave her a try. Then I read another of her books. And another. Now, author Julie Klassen ranks among the handful of authors whose books I never turn down.
Klassen’s most recent novel is the captivating The Painter’s Daughter. Set in 1815, The Painter’s Daughter draws readers into the mentalities, sensitivities, and struggles that faced both the English gentility and the professional class of the time.
Sophie Dupont is the daughter of a successful, but by no means wealthy, English painter. Assisting him privately, Sophie develops her own passion and talent for painting. But, in keeping with the expectations of the time, she safely tucks away her art for her own enjoyment only. At least, until the wealthy and dashing Wesley Overtree comes to town and begins lavishing attention on Sophie and her art.
Captain Stephen Overtree must return to his regiment after taking leave to help fulfill his older brother’s responsibilities at Overtree Hall. But, first, he must find Wesley and transport him home. Traveling to Wesley’s last known destination, the captain misses his brother by just a few days, instead finding a heartbroken and ruined Sophie. Intent on saving the young woman from scandal, Captain Overtree offers a marriage of convenience. But, is he really protecting her?
Mystery, intrigue, and scandal are standard for Julie Klassen. While the mystery of The Painters Daughter is not nearly as deep and surprising as some of her other novels, it is still present. But the most beautiful aspect of the story is the thread of redemption flowing almost hand in hand with the tragedy of scandal.
It is that thread that would nudge me to truly recommend this book beyond the normal fiction enjoyment. The Painter’s Daughter is a romance novel. It’s a pleasurable escape into story land. But, it is also captures several spiritual truths:
- Being a good Christian in morality and action offers little comfort when the relationship with Christ is not there.
- A growing relationship with Christ is vital. But does it show? Does it only bring comfort to our own hearts, or can those around us both see and draw strength from it as well?
- Only Christ offers what is needed to overcome both the temptations and the tragedies before us. Redemption of souls and of circumstances is a beautiful sight to behold.
It is rather obvious, even from the back cover, that The Painter’s Daughter deals with issues of immorality, so I’d recommend that parents use discretion when considering handing this novel to their daughters. But, the issues presented in the story can offer great opportunity for discussion.