Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful.
Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him—one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with a child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.
Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.
Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?
The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen is my favorite novel by her so far. I have read every single one of the ten books she has published to date, and have loved every one of them, but there was just something about Sophie’s story that put it over the top. It was so sweet, so captivating, and had so many unexpected twists and turns that, added together, made for one of the best novels I have ever read. Julie always does a wonderful job of making you feel transported to the time and place of her novels, and this one was no exception. However, this time, it was something more. Not only did I feel like I was in nineteenth century England, but I also felt as if I was IN the story. It was like I was a character myself; I was a part of everything that went on within the pages, and I quickly became emotionally invested in Sophie and Steven’s lives (don’t judge me, that is a common thing for bookworms to experience!).
Sophie Dupont, the only daughter of widowed artist Claude Dupont, spends her days assisting Claude in his studio, often by setting up his supplies and painting his backgrounds, though she longs for her own work to be worthy of attention. Though she knows she isn’t anything special, just like her art, she begins to believe another painter, Wesley Overtree, when he tells her she is beautiful, but that leads to disaster. She finds herself not only with child, but also alone when Wesley sails for Italy in search of a new muse without barely a word of farewell. Frightened of the scandal her actions could cause, Sophie jumps at the chance of support and protection that is offered in the form of Captain Stephen Overtree.
Stephen Overtree, as the second brother of the Overtree family, is used to having to clean up older brother Wesley’s messes. The last thing he expects, however, is to find the woman portrayed in the picture he carries with him, abandoned by Wesley, and carrying his child. He quickly offers to marry her so that she can remain respectable; he fears he won’t make it back from his next campaign anyway and then she will be able to have her child under the protection of his name without being saddled to a man she doesn’t love. However, once Stephen is gone, Wesley returns to Overtree Hall, and Sophie must make a choice. Will she return to her first love, or stay true to the husband she barely knows?
The Painter’s Daughter will melt your heart, surprise you with a few unexpected twists and turns, and have you cheering for the wonderful Captain long before you even know if the book will end well for him (or you may cheer for Wesley, but I highly doubt it—possibly just because I’m a little biased and happen to favor Stephen). Anyway, I can promise you that you will choose a favorite easily and early on in your journey through this story, and that you will melt into a little puddle by the time you reach the end of this book: by the last scene of chapter 34 to be exact. That one is by far my favorite, or at least in the top three. I can’t wait for you to read it.
I cannot possibly describe all that makes this book just so wonderful, partially because there aren’t words enough to do it justice, possibly because I will end up spoiling the story, but let me assure you, it well deserves more than just the five bookshelves I am limited to giving it. Something that does show my love for it just a little bit better is the fact that it is on my all-time-favorites list, and that I HIGHLY recommend it. If you like historical novels that will knock your socks off—or even if you don’t—I am sure that you will fall in love with this story as soon as you open the pages, just like I did.
To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.
All credit for the wonderful picture goes to my sister Allie, whose blog you can visit here.
All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Julie Klassen and Bethany House Publishers.