The Silent Governess
By Julie Klassen
PBR Book Review:This is a book about Olivia, a young woman with a secret who’s running from her past. It’s set in the 19th century with beautiful descriptions of an English manor house and the surrounding gardens. It depicts the life of a governess, as well as the life style of the gentry, all incredibly interesting to read about. I loved the quotes at the beginning of the chapters too. They are excerpts from newspaper articles and books of that period describing the duties of a Governess. They helped set an eloquent tone and sense of reality to the story. Julie Klassen is a gifted writer with a fresh writing style perfectly suited to Historical Fiction; wonderful descriptions without being excessive, well researched details that bring the period to life and characters with depth that evoke a range of emotions. In summary, good solid Historical Fiction that will appeal to those who enjoy this genre or those who just want to get lost in a nice story.
Book Club Talking Points:
I loved reading about the challenges of a 19th century governess and pondering the pros and cons and reasons for choosing this path. It’s a rather lonely existence. A Governess is expected to remain distant from servants of the household, yet is not part of the family who hired her. This book also examines the class system of this period and the rules that were set in place and adhered to in society as a whole and the inner workings of an English manor house.
*Author Website: http://www.julieklassen.com/
*Other Books by Same Author:
“The Girl in the Gate House”, “The Apothecary’s Daughter”,” Lady of Milkweed”.
1. Which character in the novel did you most like or relate to? What drew you to that character?
2. The book's opening quote says, "The best proof of wisdom is to talk little, but to hear much...." Do you agree? Have you ever wished too late you had followed this advice?
3. Has a childhood regret remained with you into adulthood? What have you learned about getting past such regrets?
4. What did you learn about the life of governesses which surprised you? Do you think you would have enjoyed being a governess in the early nineteenth century? Why or why not?
5. Governesses were expected to teach literature, poetry, French, Italian, geography, the sciences, religion, arithmetic, needlework, dancing, and drawing, and to play a musical instrument. How does this compare with your own (or your children's) education? Anything on the list you wish you'd had the chance to learn?
6. How might discovering that your origins are different from what you've always believed affect you? Would you have reacted differently than Edward?
7. Legal adoption as we know it was not practiced in Regency England. Unless a child was a peer's natural son born in wedlock, he might be left some money but could not inherit his father's title or estate. Women could not usually inherit either. Did this surprise you? Strike you as unfair?
8. Where do you get your identity? From your parents, your profession, your kids, your church, your relationship with God? How has the source of your identity changed over the years?
9. Has your view of God been influenced by your earthly father or another person? Positively or negatively? If negatively, what ways have you found to overcome that influence?
10. Did any character or happening in the novel surprise you? How so? And did you enjoy the twist?
W. W. Norton & Company - May 2010 - 304 pages|
Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.
But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.
He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.
Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.