Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Review: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

I recently started reviewing book for Bethany House in addition to my reviewing for Thomas Nelson. I am especially excited about this because they have a larger selection of fiction novels, which are easier to read while school is in session than Christian Living / Non-Fiction books.

Olivia Keene is the charming and intelligent heroine of "The Silent Governess" by Julie Klassen. She is witty, thoughtful, and independent. The story begins when Olivia, fleeing home for reasons shortly explains, gets caught eavesdropping at a manor house along her route. The family secret she overhears, and the consequences should she reveal what she knows, lead to her appointment of a post at the manor house itself. Because of an injury, she is unable to speak... or is she just pretending? The Lord Bradley, our sullen and conflicted hero, is not sure if Olivia can be trusted, and so keeps a watchful eye upon her as she cares for the two young children in his home. Intrigue, romance, and drama ensue as the story unfolds. Along the way, this charming story gripped me and I found myself reading with excitement and anticipation - talking out loud about different parts as I read "OH, I hope its not.........." and "What if he's .........." - which from experience, I can tell you only happens with books that grip me.

Klassen is a strong writer, who creates fully formed characters from all walks of life and who also has a good grasp of the period of history and manages to educate the reader without the reader feeling as though he or she is being taught. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through history and even though I have read a number of books that take place in this time period and geography (19th century England), I learned a lot along the way. In the past, I have been cynical about the writing in Christian Fiction and there were few books I enjoyed in this genre. However, this book made me rethink my opinion: first, the Christian message was appropriately woven into the story and did not seem inserted just for the sake of evangelism; and second, the story and characters are well-drawn. I look forward to reading another of Klassen's books in the future!

If you get an opportunity to read this book, I highly recommend it. 5 family secrets out of 5.

* * In the interest of full disclosure: Though I did not receive any financial compensation for this review, I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for a review. However, the review is my own opinion and does not reflect that of the publisher, nor is it influenced by the publisher (Bethany House Books). * *


Erin said...

Tiff, I read this over Christmas. Don't know if I'd give it quite as glowing a review as you, but I agreed with you on lots of points!

Love ya!

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