Bethany House was kind enough to send me a copy of The Silent Governess, a new novel by Julie Klassen.
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Klassen is an Austen-lover, and she's created a very Austen-like plot, though with a little more dysfunction and tragedy that one would find in Jane Eyre. So if you like the classics, you will love this!
Set in the early nineteenth century, 24-year-old teacher Olivia Keene has to flee her home and everything she knows to escape a dark secret. In her stumbling journey, though, she inadvertently becomes privy to another dark secret--this one belonging to Lord Bradley, a young, wealthy man in need of stability and purpose.
My daughters, who are 12 and 15, both read the book too and really enjoyed it. Of all the Christian books I've read lately, I would say this one was the best. It's a fun read, it has a marvelously happy ending for pretty much everyone you want to have a happy ending, and a bad ending for those who deserve a bad ending, so it's immensely satisfying in that way.
It does focus quite a bit, though, on the plight of the lower classes in Britain. If you were a woman, you were in a desperate situation unless you married well. Life was not pretty. Find yourself pregnant, and life became even more bleak. We see in this story what happens to girls who find themselves the victims of rape or seduction by the upper classes--they're tossed out, die in childbirth, or die penniless. Otherwise they end up in marriages of convenience, just trying to survive.
Life was not pretty. And yet, even in this darkness there are lights of people who choose to live properly and honourably, and who do believe not just in a jealous and mean God, but also in a God who loves us personally.
I found myself, after reading this, thanking God for the opportunities that women have today, and mourning for our sisters around the world who are still in such desperate plights where the only thing they have of worth is often their bodies. When women can't earn a living any other way, life is pretty terrible indeed. I hate to think where I could have ended up in a different time, a different place, a different family.
And yet there is redemption, even in these trying times. Babies who entered the world in a horrible way can be used powerfully, with purpose, anyway. And we all have our unique roles to play in the world.
I like books that my daughters can enjoy, too, and this was definitely one of them. But don't let your daughters read it if you have yet to really go over all the birds and the bees stuff. It's not explicit, but people do end up pregnant, and if you don't want to get into an awkward conversation about what rape means, you might want to keep this one until they're a little bit older.
Altogether, a great read for a lazy Sunday afternoon--one that will stay with you and cause you to thank God again for the blessings we have here!
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Labels: book review, reading