I finished The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill this afternoon and it really struck me that Julie changed her writing style somewhat for this book. While there is quite a bit of narrative, the story moves along based on conversations. The characters are developed through conversations. The setting is furthered through conversations. The whole book revolves around conversations, moreso than other books I've read. I know that sometimes actions move the plot along, it was a bright discovery to find that conversations move the plot just as well.
Amazon summarizes the book with these words:
The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.
Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora's wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them--and her future--in a different light.
With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place.
This book is not a romance in the sense that Jane, the protagonist, becomes enamored of a suitor, but there are small bits of romance woven into the warp and woof of the novel, and help to move the plot forward. This is a five-star, two thumbs up book, with a night at a roadside inn for your rest.
My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.