The Silent Governess fell in my lap as the next novel to read in my 100 book challenge after some heavy Nook book browsing. At the time of purchase it was the #1 trending Nook Book on Barnes and Noble, therefore forcing me to pay attention to it. As I started reading the synopsis, it sounded like a mysterious historical fiction novel (if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I’m a sucker for these kinds of books). With my next book chosen, I grabbed a blanket, my nook, and some hot cocoa and started this fascinating read.
Under mysterious circumstances, Olivia Keene is forced to run from her home, as she fears that she has just killed her father in a valiant effort to save her mother’s life. Fearing she will never see her family again, Olivia runs haphazardly away, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate named Brightwell Court, where a large party is being held. She unknowingly overhears a conversation between Edward, more formally known as Lord Bradley, and his father, Lord Brightwell, debating Edward’s birth parents. Finding Olivia and fearing that she is a thief, she is thrown into jail for trespassing, where she is subsequently strangled by a fellow prisoner. So severe are her injuries that she is literally unable to speak after she is rescued. Edward fears her inability to speak is a ruse, and forces her to take a position as a governess in his home so that he can keep an eye on her, making sure his secret is never revealed. Will Olivia ever regain her speech? What secrets are Olivia, Lord Brightwell, and Edward all holding, and how will their lives intersect?
After completing this novel, it’s no wonder that this was a top trending Nook book! It’s exquisitely written, with detailed storylines for each character, as well as secrets embedded within the plot layers that come to life when you least expect them. I loved the cast of characters, especially at the end of the novel, when the true villains are revealed (they’re not at all who I expected!) That was just one of the surprises I encountered in Klassen’s work. Her ability to keep the reader on their toes throughout the novel is admirable, and I never felt any lag in the plot. The relationship between Olivia and Edward is quite complex, and it really drew me in to their story. Just when you think everything is going to work out for the best, their plans are foiled and they must regroup and work again towards a happy ending. I liked that Klassen didn’t make it easy for these characters to have happy endings. They had to go through trials and tribulations to change certain characteristics about themselves in order to succeed in the end. Olivia is one of my favorite heroines that I’ve read recently; she is strong-willed and doesn’t let the fact that she’s a woman or “governess” hold her back from her wants, needs and goals. Edward, on the other hand, is dealt terrible blow after terrible blow and it unfortunately changes the type of person that he is. With help from the right people, however, he is able to come around, mature, and become a man fitting his title and position.
I love finding books that I previously know nothing about, that impress me to the point at which I want to read everything else that the author has written. Upon completion of The Silent Governess, I immediately needed to add all of Julie Klassen’s other novels to my to-read list. Her plot was creative, characters fascinating, and her writing was absolutely sublime. She’s definitely now become one of my top five favorite historical fiction writers. I do hope you’ll give her novels a chance to impress you as much as they’ve impressed me.
5 out of 5 Stars
This is my thirty-fourth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishing (2010)
Paperback 448 pages