cover image The Sisters of Sea View

The Sisters of Sea View

Julie Klassen. Bethany House, $17.99 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-0-7642-3426-2

Jane Austen fans will delight in this nimble series launch from Klassen (Shadows of Swanford Abbey). In 1819, the four Summers sisters face reduced circumstances after their father’s untimely death, and they move into a seaside home in Sidmouth, England. Their mother is ill and the family is desperate for funds, so oldest daughter Sarah decides to rent out spare rooms and prays to God that the income will be enough to keep the family afloat. The sisters are eager to help, except for Viola, who fears that having “guests” will subject her facial scar, which she keeps hidden under a veil, to added scrutiny. She takes a job reading to disabled people, including Major Hutton, an irascible young man disfigured while in India, with whom she develops a close bond. Meanwhile, the guests at Sidmouth add excitement and a bit of romance to the family’s lives. The handsome Mr. Henshall makes Sarah rethink her decision to be a spinster, snooty Mrs. Elton (plucked from Austen’s Emma, one of many nods to the author) lacks tact, and eccentric Mr. Gwilt converses with a stuffed parrot. Klassen excels at weaving her various story lines, each emphasizing the colorful qualities of her characters and allowing them the space to shine. Readers will be eager for the next installment. (Dec.)