Julie Klassen’s newest novel, The Painter’s Daughter, was released from Bethany House in December of 2015. Seeing this talented storyteller’s name on a new book, I automatically assumed I would enjoy it as much as her previous work, namely The Dancing Master and The Secret of Pembrooke Park. After reading the synopsis for this new story, however, I was slightly hesitant to request a review copy. A young women in serious trouble, a hasty marriage of convenience between strangers, and a too-late reunion of love lost – that sounded like a possible recipe for inappropriate content! Ultimately, I decided to trust Miss Klassen and request the title anyway, hoping the main storyline did not focus primarily on these details. After all, each of her other books featured those types of plot points as well, but they were always handled with grace and tact, and not overmuch detail. Unfortunately, that was not the case with The Painter’s Daughter. My misgivings were justified, tenfold.
Throughout the novel, it was apparent that Julie Klassen has not lost her gift for masterfully telling stories overflowing with lifelike characters and unique plot lines. Without question, she can still draw readers into the regency setting with ease. However, this story was different in that it did not stay within the bounds of clean, chaste, Christian content. In fact, it seemed to leap out of those bounds from the very beginning, and hardly ever looked back. Please understand that while I don’t mind when characters make mistakes and learn from them, I do take offense with too much explanation of those mistakes. Page after page was filled with inappropriate details that were uncomfortable to read, and embarrassing to find in Christian literature. I was so disappointed with the way the story ended up heading, especially when it had the potential to go in a different direction entirely, that I question whether I will pick up another of Ms. Klassen’s titles in the future. If you are looking for an intriguing, well-written, and vividly realistic historical novel, this book will fit the bill. However, if you also prefer for it to portray innocence and righteousness, and avoid scenes that go against these standards, I suggest looking elsewhere.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.