In The Governess of Highland Hall, author Carrie Turansky has crafted a wonderful Edwardian era novel set in England; replete with dashing lords and ladies, and opulent mansions with magnificent decor...nonetheless behind those ornate doors also lurk secrets, pain, and hidden passions.
A missionary in India, Julia Foster has returned to England because of her father's illness and procures a position as governess of Highland Hall, a wealthy estate owned by the handsome, brooding widower Sir William Ramsey. Julia's job is to care for William's children and his deceased cousin's two teenage girls. Doing so is quite a challenge as the baronet seems to be cold and withdrawn towards his own children and distrusts all women.
As Julia befriends William's lovely but crippled sister, Sarah, who is keeping a deep secret from her brother, she also begins to endear herself to the children. But what dark secret is William carrying inside and how can he save Highland Hall from financial ruin? Although his fondness towards Julia begins to turn to love...will he marry another with wealth to save not only Highland Hall but his reputation as well?...for to marry a governess is quite unacceptable for a man of his social standing.
This heartwarming novel, reminiscent of a cross between Jane Eyre and Jane Austen, will grab the reader from page one and not let go until the satisfying conclusion. This is one of those books where one falls so in love with the characters that it is SO hard to let them go! And this not only has one romantic plot, but two more romantic subplots which will break and also delight the reader's heart and cause several sighs (and tears!) to escape while reading. William is perfect as the brooding hero, but I couldn't stand this stuffed shirt at first until I got a chance to really see his heart. Beautifully written and researched, I highly recommend this wonderful novel!!
For fans of Downton Abbey (isnâ€™t that everyone?)
October 17, 2013
Illness has forced the Foster family to return to England from their missionary school and orphanage in India. Julia gains employment at Highland House, the home of Sir William Ramsay, as governess to his children, Andrew and Millicent, and to his teenage cousins and wards, Katharine and Penelope.
Sir William is looking for a governess who won't mind staying in the country, because he has only recently inherited Highland Hall, and the death duties are placing a lot of financial pressure on him. Julia hasn't told him she plans on returning to India with her family as soon as her father is well again, and as she spends more time at Highland Hall, getting to know Sir William and his family, she has to rethink her future plans.
The story and characters captured my attention from the start. I like an intelligent heroine who isn't afraid to have her own opinions, so I liked Julia. William was a man with many troubles, but made a fitting hero. I liked the romantic subplot featuring Sarah, William's sister, and I liked the Christian aspect of the storyâ€”Julia, especially, has a strong Christian faith (she's partly modelled on Amy Carmichael, a real-life missionary to India).
The novel combines elements of classic British fiction like Jane Eyre with the Edwardian era, currently made fashionable by the TV series Downton Abbey. I'm a huge fan of Downton Abbey and fiction set in England, and it always bugs me when I'm pulled out of the story by silly factual errors, or by English characters using American vocabulary (like fall or pavement). Carrie Turansky contacted me to ask if I'd read her draft to find any such errors. I was pleased to help, and can only hope I found them all!
The Governess of Highland Hall is the first of a trilogy, and I look forward to reading the next in the series. Recommended.
I really enjoy literature that is set in the Edwardian time frame and The Governess of Highland Hall was a great example of well written fiction in this period. Ms. Turansky did a wonderful job of remaining accurate to the time while keeping the story line interesting.
The main character is Julia who has been a missionary with her parents in India. She loved her work with the young girls there but because of her father's medical condition she and her family are forced to return to England. Once they are back on the continent Julia seeks a position as governess to help alleviate some of the financial strain on her family.
Julia finds a position at Highland Hall that is ran by Sir William Ramsey. Sir Ramsey has recently acquired the estate because of the death for his cousin. William is faced with many struggles over whether to go with his heart or to stick with what is acceptable among the nobility. Julia proves to be the source of his greatest predicament. Falling in love with the governess is beyond acceptable in his social circles. He also has the added responsibility of securing the future of Highland Hall for the family name. In order to do that he either needs to remarry someone of means or find a way to raise more capital.
Along with the story line of Julia and William is the charming tale of the budding romance between William's younger sister Sarah and the head gardener. That is a definite no no to the social norms of the time. The cast of characters is filled out with people that appear to be loyal, but aren't and those that are just out to benefit themselves.
This book is light enough for a great afternoon read but it is complex enough to hold you interest on into the evening. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys historical fiction and more specifically that from the Edwardian period.
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
Carrie Turansky's first novel of her Edwardian Brides series is a sweet romance taking place at a country estate in Edwardian era England. Due to her father's poor health, Julia Foster and her family return to England from their missionary work in India, hoping that her father will grow well again and that they might return to their calling in the far land. In the meantime, Julia must find work, and her teaching in India, as well as her mother's wealthy upbringing, has prepared her to be a governess. Working at Highland Hall has its challenges - not only is she governess for the Lord William's two rambunctious children, but also for his wards, two hurting teenage girls. William's shy sister Sarah proves to be an ally in the house, and William is attracted to her, but not everyone wants her there - and as neither a regular servant or a member of the family, Julia is in a precarious position. With the threat of losing the estate, William has to find a way to raise money, and marrying beneath him will not help, but marrying for wealth holds little attraction to his heart. Can William find a way to save both Highland Hall and his heart?
I liked the historical aspects of the novel. Death duties rose significantly during the twentieth century and led to the loss of many country estates, so it is fitting that William is hit with outrageous inheritance taxes. Class - especially marrying within one's class - is a big issue in the story, as it was then, and I like how the author (through Julia) compares it to the caste system in India, bringing up the question of whether they really were so much better and more civilized than the Indians. Turansky also does a good job of putting the governess in her place; she is higher than the other servants, and therefore has little in common with them, but she is not actually family either, and therefore she has few people with whom she can actually associate. Julia has more to do with the adults of the family than was perhaps realistic, but given Sarah's circumstances, I would still say it is within the realm of possibility.
While it is nice that Julia starts out the novel as a strong christian, as such she has very little growth through the story; other than speaking her mind a bit too forcefully a couple times, she pretty much always makes right decisions. William, on the other hand, has a great many faults and much room for growth; while he learns to overcome most of those faults, I did not feel that he grows much closer to God. He willingly participates in all the rituals, but he is not on his knees crying out to God for wisdom and provision.
It is a sweet romance, but it is fairly predictable and passive, lacking tension that would heighten the romance or varying relationships between characters. I liked the secondary romance between Sarah and Clark and its pivotal role in paving the way for William and Julia, but I wish the points of view had been limited to those four - or even just Julia and William - to tighten up the story a bit. Including the viewpoints of the nursery maid and housekeeper besides made it more Downton Abbey-ish, but in my opinion their stories could have still been effectively told without it, and then the focus would have remained more centralized. The more points of view, the harder it is to pull off a tight-knit story.
There is some very sound advice in here for anyone considering marriage, and I like how it plays out in the various romances of the story. It is a pleasant, clean read, reminiscent of The Sound of Music; I did not love it, but I liked it enough that I will probably read the next book in the series. 3 1/2 stars
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.
Julia Foster spent twelve years in India, helping her parents with missionary work among young girls.Due to her fathers health they must return back to England. Julia finds a job as a governess in Highland Hall to care for a recent widower's Sir William Ramsey's two children and his teenage cousins. William has recently inherited his late cousin's title and estate, but it's left in a very difficult financial situation. Sir William made a vow to himself to never remarry beacause of his late wife's behavior but he finds himself drawn to Julia. As financial pressure increases and it seems as though he will lose the estate he must decide if he will follow his heart and marry for love or choose a wealthy bride whose fortune can save his family's estate from ruin.
Throughout the story Julia will face many challenges among servants and Sir Williams teenage cousins, especially Katherine, who's preparing for her first season. I really enjoyed this book and its characthers, this book is certainly worth the read if you love historical romance novels.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.