★★★★☆ – 3.5 stars out of 5
In short, I enjoyed this quick read and was easily swept into the world of Sophie van Riijn and Quentin Vandermark. It is a classic tale of light versus dark in people and how one woman simply wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. The main character, Sophie van Riijn is a stubborn and independent woman of her time who’s only desire is to keep the beauty of Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion, alive and keep the weather station running. When suddenly the family of Dierenpark, the Vandermarks, return after 60 years with the intention of bringing the home to the ground, Sophie works to make her way into their lives. It’s a splendid story of a modern girl, love, religion and science (but not necessarily one or the other, which I appreciated), and mystery.
The things that I enjoyed most about this book is that the main female character was described as more than just her relationships (or the failings of them). She came across as a modern girl set in a period of time where her actions weren’t appreciated. I loved the mystery behind the mansion in which the majority of the story takes place. The questions surrounding the Vandermark family kept me hooked through till the end.
With that said, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that no part of this story took place in reality. That is, I think it would’ve added a great deal to the story if Dierenpark (by a different name) or the mystery of the Vandermark family was based in some truth but unfortunately it was not. I also felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities to continue to build on Sophie’s independent nature as she became more familiar with the family. Finally, the first few mentions of the weather station and other scientific based statements seemed out of place and were repeated rather then simplified or explained better. I understand the purpose (pushing the scientific nature of Quentin) but it came across as too much and were often the times that I ended up setting the book down to return to it later.
Again, overall I did enjoy this book and quickly passed it on to my mother who greatly enjoys books of this nature. We discussed the book together and from that comes my/ our review of the book. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and, more specifically, tales such as Jane Eyre (since this story did often remind us of it).
Please note: I received a hard copy of this book from the publishers at Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own (with some input from my mother and her experience with the book).