This is the second instalment in The Tales of Ivy Hills. Set in 1820 England, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage continues where the previous book left off. Rachel is a resident of Ivy Cottage, which is the home of Misses Groove. She is determined to pay for her stay by earning on her own. In a meeting at Ladies Tea and Knitting Society, someone suggests that Rachel open a circulating library; it will give her an income and put to use the vast collection of books left to her by her father. She sets out to opening her library and gets generous donations of books from the townspeople. In the process, she finds two hidden mysteries and starts finding clues to solve them. She also needs to decide upon Nicholas Ashford’s proposal of marriage.
Jane Bell is a widow who runs an inn, The Bell, left to her by her late husband. Gabriel, Jane, Mercy and Rachel were childhood friends, but they drifted apart due to circumstances. Now that Jane and Gabriel have started reconnecting, she misses their previous friendship.
Mercy Groove has her heart sent on opening a charity school but her lack of funds stand in the way. Her parents, on the other hand, want her to get married and live a normal, staid lifestyle. I’m quite intrigued by how Mercy’s story unfolds–for which I shall I have to wait for the next instalment.
This was quite a delightful read. Though not as fast-paced as the first part, the book had its own twists that held me captivated. The characters are well-developed and Klassen has portrayed them wonderfully. Most of the major characters got their happy ending, but some still have an ongoing story which makes me quite eager for the third part of the series. This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I recommend you read the first part to enjoy it more.