Saturday, April 09, 2011

Christian Fiction Book Club- The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

The Christian Fiction Book Club meets every six weeks at different book blogs. This month we read The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen and chose one or more discussion questions to address in a blog post. Feel free to come join the conversation!

The author's bio on the back of this book says, "Julie Klassen loves all things Jane- Jane Eyre and Jane Austen."

...And I love all things Julie Klassen.

The Girl in the Gatehouse is the third novel I've read by this author and each has been fantastic. I actually snuck this one to work in my purse to read during my free periods instead of photocopying worksheets for my students.

The Auten-esque feel of this Regency romance starts with the beautiful cover and continues into the storyline which is about a disgraced woman who's fallen from her place in society-a recurring theme in Jane Austen books.

I would not consider this novel edgy in any way, but I was surprised by the level of disgrace the heroine endured in her back story. I kept thinking she must be remembering things as worse than they were-but no, she really went there. In my opinion, the harder the characters fall, the sweeter the redemption, and Klassen does a great job weaving a theme of forgiveness throughout the book.

Another thing she weaves throughout the book is mystery. She crafted a tranquil, romantic setting, filled it with an eccentric cast of characters who aren't always what they appear, and turned their quiet lives into an adventure I couldn't put down.

My rating:

The discussion question I chose:

Had you known that Jane Austen's never appeared in her books during her lifetime? Did it surprise you that novel writing was considered (at least by some) improper and unladylike? In what ways do those attitudes continue today?

I think it's kind of sad that Jane never got to see her name in print, or see how beloved her novels are today. It doesn't surprise me that novel writing was considered improper. As much as I love to read about or watch movies set in that time period, I really don't think I would have wanted to live back then. Life seemed to rigid, too structured. I'd probably be bored out of my mind.

In an interesting contrast, it wasn't too long ago that Christian fiction was seen as in improper pursuit. Why would Christians waste their time writing fiction when they could be studying the Bible, or writing devotionals?

I still think reading romance or writing romance carries a little bit of a stigma. I'm not sure it's taken as seriously as other genres.

Coming up next:

Our next book club discussion takes place May 21 and the book is Words by Ginny Yttrup. We need a host! If you linked up this month and you're interested in hosting in May leave a comment below.

Did you read The Girl in the Gatehouse? Link up your discussion here:


  1. I had read Lady of Milkweed Manor and then lost track of Julie Klassen. So I was glad for a reason to delve into another one of her books. I thought this one was really charming and enjoyed it even more than Lady. Now I'll have to check out the JK book I have hanging out on my Kindle!

  2. Is the one on your kindle The Apothecary's Daughter? I loved that one too.

  3. I would like to host if you are still looking. I'm glad we read The Girl in the Gatehouse. I had wanted to read it, but hadn't gotten around to getting it. I really enjoyed it. I read it on my Kindle.

  4. I don't think Austen minded that she didn't see her name in print but I bet she would love to live now and she that everyone knows her name and (almost) everyone adores her work! (I have a weird friend who hates Austen's writing! I don't understand it.) I really enjoyed this book-great pick!

  5. Great review Joy! I felt the same. I'm definitely going to have to read Julie Klassen's other books now. If you're still in need of a host for May, I can do it. I read and reviewed Words several months ago...great book!! If not May, I'd love to do one of the other months. The only two I haven't read are Digitalis and the Siri Mitchell title (but I have that one sitting on my Kindle...) Let me know.

  6. Yes, Joy. The Apothecary's Daughter was offered as a free download a few months back, but I never got around to reading it. Glad to know it's a good one!

  7. Wow, you ladies have posted some awesome discussions. I hope everyone's getting a chance to hop around. Thanks for volunteering Kara and Julie. I'll see if anyone else wants to host and then I'll use to pick.

  8. I found your site via (in a roundabout way)Round of Words in 80 Days. A fellow writer had mentioned your blog in a post I happened upon, and as I am writing a romance with Christian themes, I had to stop by.
    Your blog is great! I have added "The Girl In The Gatehouse" to my TBR pile after reading your discussion. I look forward to following your future posts and discussions. ~Nadja

  9. Nadja, it's so nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by, and we'd love to have you join us for a future book club!

  10. I was very surprised to find out the writing by women was frowned upon. This book dragged along for me but everyone has different tastes. I liked some parts of it, especially the cover but was happy when I finished it to go on to something else.

  11. Thanks for participating everyone. It was a great discussion this month. According to, the host for may is Julie at My Only Vice!

  12. I didn't know that about Christian fiction, but I agree with you about reading and writing romance.

  13. I still need to read something by this author! Thanks for stopping by and following my blog, I'm a new follower!

  14. I have to read this sometime.

    BTW, thank you so much for your concern and prayers. It meant allot :) *hugs*

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. Please consider reviewing Heather Heaton's new ebook "Her Letters from Prison" in your book club and/or reading group meetings.

    I (Heather Heaton) am recommending my new ebook ("Her Letters from Prison") as a motivational resource for reading pleasure, review, contemplation, and comment. God changed my life in prison! My ebook will validate your inquisitive doubts about what goes on in women’s prisons (It is what it is!); it can justify the efforts spent toward Christian ministries to women’s prisons; and it can be an inspirational (tell-it-like-it-is) resource for drug rehab/prevention programs. The book is non-fiction, inspirational, prison romance; and the original letters (with prison art) are included as images for authenticity.

    I am a 34 year old college student trying to better my life, in spite of the baggage I carry from my previous life.

    A brief description of the ebook follows:
    1. Breanna tells the true story of her experiences in prison through her letters to her friend Heath. This is a story of survival and a quest to make a better life. The letters describe the daily shocking events of prison life involving drugs, sex, utter devastation and humiliation, anger, hopelessness, despair, and finally happiness and hope.

    2. Breanna was condemned to prison by her narcissistic lover; and a new, positive prison romance began to blossom.

    3. Breanna's "truth" stands still even as the world around her trembles and burns! Bad things do happen to good people; and Breanna is the perfect example of this truth.

    4. Breanna's inner strengths and principles eventually win out over the corruption and evil that surrounds her. With God's help, Breanna survives the horrible experiences of prison life and regains her self-confidence and hope for a better life.

    5. "Breanna" was an inmate at Tutwiler Women's Prison from 2007 to 2009.

    6. "Breanna" benefitted from women's prison ministries and the LIFE Tech-Wetumpka state-funded self-help program. Breanna was blessed with a life-changing experience.

    Heather Heaton

    Customer/Reader Review of “Her Letters from Prison”
    Heather, ever since you first contacted me about your ebooks (and when I received them) I have been giving them traction. At least two women on my case load checked them out, (like a library card so I would get them back) and were very moved by the content. I haven’t had another problem with their behavior since they read them. So…I know they are working. They should be required reading, ordered by a Judge before women are sentenced to probation, so that they would fully understand the consequences of their behavior.

    Gary Parsons
    Parole Officer
    State of Alabama – Board of Pardons & Parole


I love comments more than Starbucks! Thanks for leaving one!


Related Posts with Thumbnails