For the days when you’re wishing for Downton Abbey: Review of The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

It’s that time of year where we Americans who are waiting for the return of Downton Abbey are jealous of the Brits (and select Canadians) who are already into season 4 of the PBS Masterpiece series.

governess coverIf you’re in need of something to occupy your time, I’d suggest Carrie Turansky’s new book, The Governess of Highland Hall. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program in exchange for my review.)

Julia Foster has been serving with her parents as missionaries in India. When they are forced to return to England because of her father’s health, Julia takes a job as governess of Highland Hall. Sir William Ramsey, a widower and the estate’s new master, is in over his head trying to save the property from financial ruin while trying to manage his two young children and his teenage nieces.

From Julia and William’s first meeting, I felt like this story was part The Sound of Music, part Downton Abbey. Both are stories I love, but I couldn’t decide if I loved this story or not. The setting is alluring, of course, because it’s England in the early 1900s and it’s a manor house, which I will always find enchanting.

But there are a lot of similarities to Downton. I found myself picturing characters from the show in place of characters of the book. That’s not entirely a downside because to me, that shows that the author has done her research and has accurately portrayed the time period. There are also some additional points of view besides the main characters. It didn’t thrill me. There are subplots in the story, and the extra POVs, like from one of the maids and the head housekeeper, are necessary to tell those stories, I guess, but I thought it was only okay.

Toward the end of the book, the action built to a point that I couldn’t put the book down, so I’m glad I stuck with it for that.

Overall, though, I found the plot fairly predictable and the story just okay. Again, if you want to relive the high points of Downton Abbey, this is a good book for that. If you’re looking for something fresh, I’d look elsewhere.


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