Julie Klassen, an author who also works in Christian publishing, totally surprised me with the first book I read by her, The Silent Governess. I read all genres and Christian historical or regal fiction is one I do enjoy, not just for the values or the Christian publishing but as they are always so well-written and researched. I wasn’t thrown off track with this book in that regard as it was truly superb writing.
Loving books about the Regency in nineteenth-century Europe, I found this book’s synopsis intriguing about a governess hiding a secret within an English Manor house. It only takes me the first chapter to know if it will be a book that is catchy enough for my interest, which can be sometimes hard to hold depending on the author’s writing style. I started this 400 page book and was done within a day and a half because I could not tear myself away to put it down. The fluidity of the book from one scene to the next, coupled with the mysteriousness on the part of the governess and the Lord’s family who resided at the Manor, really made this book one that kept me reading late into the night. The character building, plot turns, visual details, and romantic interludes had me entranced.
As you read, it becomes a true romance surrounded within the times of piety, moral and family codes, and the cover-ups that happened in families due to expectations and law of family hierarchy, politics, and taboo happenings. Klassen deals with these issues in the book in a way that allows the characters to feel no shame and be redeemed, in fact, cherished. She openly embraces this in the book as in relation to how our God can in fact redeem everyone no matter their indiscretion, act or political and life stature.
She does a great job showing us a historically accurate picture of the life of Governesses on these such estates during this time period. A lonely existence is portrayed, as often times they spent long days only with the children and were not allowed to fraternize with either the employees or the family of the Manor. She also does a great job formatting the life of household employees and how they intertwined with other Estate employees, the family, and the town. Her details within characters, the home, the grounds, and the village was really refreshing and truly helped me become partnered and interwoven with these characters. I did not want to leave the main character, Olivia, at the end. I felt I had been watching a painting come to life and had entered it to become a part of this story. I am left wanting to see back into the portrait and to what happens next.
I truly loved this period romance and mystery, which was not at all a sultry or tawdry romance, but more a historical account of how romance can bloom in the most unlikely of places and under any circumstance. Furthermore, how parental relationships can be redeemed and indeed even grow among non-biological family. It gave a strong account on how women should have been educated in the nineteenth century and how a woman definately is worth so much more than what they sometimes were regarded back then.
The Manor in The Silent Governess was based loosely on Bibury Court that she visited during travels to England. It is a beautiful stone Manor with a Mill close-by. I can see why this is the perfect setting for such a telling story of a truly strong female character who I grew to admire very much for her fortitude and love. If you’d like to see, click on this link to view Klassen’s photo of Bibury. http://www.julieklassen.com/BiburySSV3/index.html
I can’t wait to read more of Julie Klassen. If you are interested in learning more about her and/or her books, you can go to www.julieklassen.com