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.
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: