Return to Ivy Hill in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold.
Living with the two Miss Groves in Ivy Cottage, impoverished gentlewoman Rachel Ashford is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. When the village women encourage her to open a subscription library with the many books she has inherited or acquired through donations, Rachel discovers two mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but will both find more than they bargained for?
Rachel's friend and hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and fills her days managing her girls' school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what--or who--has captured each man's attention? The truth may surprise them all.
Meanwhile, life has improved at the coaching inn and Jane Bell is ready to put grief behind her. Now if only the man she misses would return--but where is he?
As the women of Ivy Hill search for answers about the past and hope for the future, might they find love along the way?
An invitation to return to the world of Ivy Hill was a delightful prospect for me. I might encounter the three lovely childhood friends- Jane, Rachel, and Mercy- who must all make their way in the world independently or any of the other village characters.
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is the second of the Tales from Ivy Hill series. It flows right out of the first book, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill so does not make a good place to start.
The focus of this book is divided with an ongoing story of Jane who was the central figure of the first book, Mercy whose story is emerging, and Rachel who is the central figure of this book. I liked how the story flowed easily from friend to friend taking the reins of the narrative.
This is a gently paced book that is a series of village encounters for all the main players and their acquaintances. There are several interesting plot threads going on that range from character driven to mysteries to romances. While some threads are introduced and do not finish off in this book, others are tied off nicely.
The first book had more action and immediacy to it with all the work that was being done to save the inn and figure out who was sabotaging the efforts. Though, Ladies of Ivy Cottage is more divided in its focus; there were still some riveting moments when the ladies were faced with big, difficult choices. It took me a bit to get settled into the story and it didn’t read quickly for me. I didn’t mind once I got in sync with the pace that read more like women’s fiction or- an ongoing chronicle which this is.
I enjoyed the interplay between the three friends and also their personal stories that are going on. Jane, Mercy, and Rachel are all so very different and encounter much different issues in their lives though they lean on each other for support and wisdom. Each have their personal low points, but come into their own. Rachel, in true Jane Austen fashion, has her own second chance romance ala Persuasion-style playing out while Mercy is startled by sudden interest in her and Jane has to overcome her fears and grief before she can accept her own romance.
Like in book one when Jane had to do what she could to save her livelihood, Rachel and Mercy are faced with their own obstacles. Rachel’s subscription library has the whole village in a twitter while Mercy’s dreams of having a village charity school are foiled by lack of funds, but also her own parents’ desire to see her in a traditional situation of marriage and home. There is also a child with a secret past that may foil Mercy’s adoption efforts and a friend’s dark family secret that Rachel inadvertently stumbled over. Side characters like Thora, Andrew, and James are also getting their stories and they are just as interesting as the main story paths.
There are inspirational themes laced throughout with the biggest being letting go of improper pride when it comes to getting defensive about the past or relying on help from God and others.
The elements of mystery, personal growth, spiritual growth, and romance along with village life were just the thing. I continue to adore this author’s writing and look forward to what comes next from The Tales from Ivy Hill.
New Release #191 Austenesque #47