THE SISTERS OF SEA VIEW, by Julie Klassen, Bethany House Publishers, Dec. 6, 2022, Paperback, $17.99 (young adult/ new adult/ adult fiction)
Four sisters turn their home into a guest house following the death of their father in The Sisters of Sea View, by Julie Klassen.
When their father’s death leaves them impoverished, Sarah Summers and her genteel sisters fear they will be forced to sell the house and separate to earn livelihoods as governesses or companions. Determined to stay together, Sarah convinces them to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet and provide for their ailing mother. Instead of the elderly invalids they expect to receive, however, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah is soon torn between a growing attraction to a mysterious Scottish widower and duty to her family.
Viola Summers wears a veil to cover her scar. When forced to choose between helping in her family’s new guest house and earning money to hire a maid to do her share, she chooses the latter. She reluctantly agrees to read to some of Sidmouth’s many invalids, preferring the company of a few elders with failing eyesight to the fashionable guests staying in their home. But when her first client turns out to be a wounded officer in his thirties, Viola soon wishes she had chosen differently. Her new situation exposes her scars — both visible and those hidden deep within — and her cloistered heart will never be the same.
Join the Summers sisters on the Devonshire coast, where they discover the power of friendship, loyalty, love, and new beginnings. —Synopsis provided by Bethany House Publishers
Sisters of Sea View is truly an ensemble piece. The story unfolds through the sisters’ alternating viewpoints, giving readers a mixture of broad and up-close looks at all the action. The delineation between those points of view isn’t immediately clear — at least not in the digital review copy — but quickly come into focus once you understand what’s going on.
Author Julie Klassen does an excellent job developing her main players — they all have distinct and compelling voices. But the true stars are Klassen’s supporting characters. They’re mysterious, quirky and provide a strong framework for her stars to shine.
Sisters of Sea View is the first book in Klassen’s new On Devonshire Shores series. Given that there are the four sisters in Sidmouth (Sarah, Viola, Emily and Georgiana) and a fifth (Claire) who mysteriously up and moved to Scotland, there’s room for at least four more books in this world.
Set in the Regency era, Sisters of Sea View features characters of varying ages and personalities, “chaste” romance and a good bit of mystery, making it a good crossover into the YA market. With nods to Jane Austen and a bit of a Little Women feel to it, this novel is a gentle and entertaining read.
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