Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret. Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?
This was the first book by Julie Klassen that I read. I must say that I loved it. A couple of weeks ago I reviewed The Lady of Milkweed Manner, Klassen’s first book. The Girl is the Gatehouse also features a young woman disgraced and sent into exile by her family. Mariah lives with her handmaid, Dixon in an old Gatehouse attached to her Aunt’s property, Windrush Court. After the death of her aunt, Captain Matthew Bryant leases the estate and it is here that Mariah meets him.
Many things happen throughout the book – there is a mystery surrounding the poorhouse across the road, Dixon has several men vying for her hand in marriage and Mariah is writing under a pseudonym in order to pay the bills and follow her passion for writing. Amongst all this, Mariah learns that when things seem at their worst, there is always a light around the corner.
I loved this book and thought quite often of my Jane Austen books. I enjoyed the depth Klassen puts into the story. She makes sure that everyone’s story is told. How she maintains a firm grasp on so many characters is beyond me but she does it so well! Through all this she still keeps Mariah and Matthew at the heart of the story. Their road to each other is not simple but beautifully told.
Julie has won herself a fan with her beautifully told stories!