Believing herself guilty of a crime punishable by death, Olivia Keene is forced to flee the only home she has ever known. At her mother’s bequest, she heads for St. Aldywns, where she may be given sanctuary. Olivia’s plans are put on hold when she is caught trespassing on a wealthy family’s grounds and overhears a long kept family secret that could bring Lord Bradley to ruins. Desperate to keep the truth buried, Edward Bradley keeps her under his watchful eye as first an under nurse and then a governess for his niece and nephew. Although Edward Bradley thinks Olivia is hiding a secret of her own, he cannot help his growing attraction to her. His suspicions reach their peak when his father, the Earl of Brightwell, takes an unusual interest in the mysterious governess.
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen is an intriguing tale of familial secrets, romance, and class systems in the 19th century. Klassen’s writing style flows easily, but has little of the elegance and formality in language found in similar works by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Much of the dialogue seemed very modern, and not what one would expect for characters living in the 19th century.
Klassen masterfully created a believable and tension-filled romance between Edward Bradley and Olivia Keene. Though she keeps his shameful secret, he still has reason to distrust her. Despite his hot and cold treatment of her, Olivia finds herself falling in love with Edward. Even if there were no secrets between them, they are both of different classes: Edward is the heir to Brightwell Court, and Olivia is little more than a servant.
To write from the perspective of a 19th century governess, Klassen had to do a lot of research. At the beginning of each chapter, Klassen shares with readers some of the interesting tidbits regarding the expectations of a governess and the lifestyle one would lead. Though a governess is in a servitude position like maids, housekeepers, and nurses, she is expected to remain distant from the other servants: “A governess must possess good sense enough not to intrude on domestic privacy. And she must, of course, not make herself too familiar with the domestic servants (excerpt from The Complete Servant by Samuel and Sarah Adams).” It is these historical facts weaved in with Klassen’s fiction that made this a truly enjoyable story.
The Silent Governess is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, 19th century customs, and clean romance.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
This book was provided free of any obligation by Bethany House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.