If You Like….

We all have our own bizarre trope preferences. One of mine (result of a childhood reading Victorian-set gothics) is books with governesses in them.

If you like books featuring governesses, you’ll probably like….

— Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. How can one not lead off with Jane Eyre? It’s the origin of all other governess novels. (The 2007 Masterpiece Theatre version was particularly excellent. Just sayin’.)

— Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting. Possibly my personal favorite governess novel of all time.

— Victoria Holt, Mistress of Mellyn. No one writes Victorian governesses like Victoria Holt. And where better to start than at the very beginning, with her first book? (Because, as another governess has advised us, “Let’s start at the very beginning… A very good place to start….”).

— Barbara Michaels, The Master of Blacktower. Not my favorite Victorian-set Barbara Michaels (cough, Sons of the Wolf, cough), but Barbara Michaels plus governess still equals an excellent read. (For another Barbara Michaels variant on the governess theme, see also Black Rainbow).

— Jill Tattersall, The Wild Hunt. I adore Jill Tattersall’s books. They’re a rare and wonderful hybrid: Regency gothic.

— For something somewhat less gothic, Christina Dodd has not one governess, but an entire governess series, starting with Rules of Surrender. My favorite is #6, My Favorite Bride, her Sound of Music tribute book. Don’t get me started on my Christopher Plummer obsession.

— The 90’s remake of Dark Shadows. Okay, okay, this isn’t a book, but it does most certainly have a governess. I still get chills down my spine when I hear “My name is Victoria Winters….”

— And then there’s my own governess book, The Orchid Affair. For more on that, here’s an interview I did about it last year.

Do you have any other governesses for me?


  1. Joanne M. on April 30, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Kara Louise has a wonderful Pride and Prejudice retelling where Elizabeth becomes a governess after her father’s death…Only Mr. Darcy Will Do.

  2. Vicki on April 30, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Oh how I love me some governess books! Jane Eyre started it all and Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart fanned the flames.
    A few faves that you haven’t mentioned: The Secret Pearl – Mary Balogh, September Moon by Candace Proctor and for a super hot governess story, His Dark Kiss by Eve Silver.
    And for a man-stealing governess, you can’t beat Evil Genius by Wilkie Collins. Collins also created one of the most evil governess characters ever in his book Armadale.
    Finally, if you haven’t read the NF title, Governess: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyres by Ruth Brandon, I highly recommend.

  3. Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm on April 30, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I love Nine Coaches Waiting!

    The only other one I can think of is On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt.

  4. AngelB on April 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Sticking with the Bronte Sisters, I love Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. I truly enjoyed the romance in this book as it was truly subtle but with a strong bond.

  5. Jeffrey on April 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I also enjoyed reading the semi-autobiographical Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte which exposed the ugly side of being a governess and I was so pleased by Miss Grey’s romance because it released her from her miserable existence.

  6. Am7 on May 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    The Silent Governess!
    By Julie Klassen!
    Omg! I read this book last summer and loved it! Its an Inspirational Gothic Historical soap opera romance and it is wonderful! I am so sorry I haven’t read more Klassen who in general writes Gothic Inspirationals, and are on my to be read list.
    Also about nonfiction and autobiographical fiction I highly recommend
    The Story of the Trapp Family Singers:The Story Which Inspired the Sound of Music
    by Maria Augusta Trapp and a ghostwriter. Very, very different from the movie, but perhaps even better. I also love
    A Family on Wheels ,
    which is a sequel to the book mentioned and also written Maria herself.

  7. Ezri on May 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Speaking of “Jane Eyre”, there’s a neat modern YA retelling of it recently out called “Jane” (by April Lindner) that is quite fun. Our modern Rochester is, of course, a rock star 🙂

    Thanks for all the governess book recommendations too! (And how happy was I to see one of my eternal faves, Barbara Michaels, mentioned? *squee*) Even though I’ve pledged my eternal love to Turnip, a girl’s got to have some books on the side to help her hold out til the next Carnation book is published!)

  8. […] more governess book recommendations, here is another list I compiled for If You Like a few years ago. You’ll notice a certain amount of […]

  9. Betty S. on May 11, 2015 at 11:11 am

    The Dark Shadows stories are out in books now.

    • Lauren on May 11, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Really??? Are they any good?

      • Betty S. on May 12, 2015 at 1:15 pm

        Haven’t read them, but I bought them for old times sake. Also the series was released on DVD last year – most of it. I watched it faithfully back in the day.

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