A richly imagined novel inspired by the true story of Anne Sharp, a
governess who became very close with Jane Austen and her family by the #1 International bestselling-author of Miss Austen.
On January 21, 1804, Anne Sharpe arrives at Godmersham Park in Kent to take up the position of governess. At thirty-one years old, she has no previous experience of either teaching or fine country houses. Her mother has died, and she has nowhere else to go.
Anne is left with no choice. For her new charge—twelve-year-old Fanny
Austen—Anne’s arrival is all novelty and excitement. The governess role is a uniquely awkward one. Anne is neither one of the servants, nor one of the family, and to balance a position between the “upstairs” an “downstairs” members of the household is a diplomatic chess game. One wrong move may result in instant dismissal. Anne knows that she must never let down her guard.
When Mr. Edward Austen’s family comes to stay, Anne forms an immediate attachment to Jane. They write plays together and enjoy long discussions. However, in the process, Anne reveals herself as not merely pretty, charming, and competent; she is clever too. Even her sleepy, complacent, mistress can hardly fail to notice.
Meanwhile Jane’s brother, Henry, begins to take an unusually strong interest in the lovely young governess. And from now on, Anne’s days at Godmersham Park are numbered.
“This is a deeply imagined and deeply moving novel. Reading it made me happy and weepy in equally copious amounts…I read it straight through without looking up.”— Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Bookclub
Hornby’s skillful mix of fact and fiction captures the complexities of the Austens and their era, and her crisp, nimble prose sparkles throughout. Best of all, Hornby genuinely channels the sentiment of 19th-century English literature. Janeites aren’t the only readers who will relish this smart, tender
tale.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review
“…a well-written and delightfully observant novel…an excellent read.”— The
Historical Novel Society
Gill Hornby is the author of the novels Miss Austen, The Hive, and All Together Now,
as well as The Story of Jane Austen, a biography of Austen for young readers. She lives
in Kintbury, England, with her husband and their four children.
How many Austens are too many Austens?
Pretty sure everyone would answer Jane Austen is their favorite Austen too.
This was such a interesting and immersive read. You’re transported to Godmersham Park. Kind of like Downton Abbey, you see the upstairs and downstairs life, but with Godmersham Park you don’t see much of the downstairs life but you see the lonely life of a governess. How you can be included in some family events and then entirely on your own, even to eat or have a fire in the winter. Poor Anne Sharp had to transition to her new life as governess quickly and even at such a fine house wasn’t always treated with respect.
But Anne kept on going because what else could she do? Hornby’s development for Anne was intriguing with her history with her father and I wonder how often that happened. I loved seeing the friendship between Anne and Jane Austen. I didn’t care for Henry Austen, I really appreciated the author’s note at the end of what actually happened to these characters later in life.
I listened to Hornby’s “Miss Austen” book before starting this book and it was charming and witty. I feel this book is much of the same. I think the first half focusing so much of Anne slowed down my interest and pacing but once Jane arrives, it breathes fresh life into the whole household and same with the writing. While at 400 pages, this is an easy to read and soon you’ve read 100 pages in a sitting.
This book is perfect for any Janeite who loves historical fiction, Jane Austen, and Regency fiction. This book releases November 1 and would make an excellent gift this holiday season. Thank you to the publisher Pegasus Books and Austenprose PR for the gifted copy. These are my own thoughts and opinions.