If You Like….

After a long hiatus, If You Like is back! It’s all thanks to Tracy Grant, who provided this week’s guest If You Like post on one of my favorite topics: governess books.

Without any further ado, if you like governess books… here’s the lovely Tracy Grant, with some recommendations:

Mayfair AffairMy book The Mayfair Affair, which releases, on May 15 is many things–a historical mystery, a spy story, an adventure. But it is also a governess story. The book begins with Laura Dudley, governess to the children of my central spy couple Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch, accused of the murder of a powerful duke. Laura has been in the background in earlier books in the series. It was fun to explore her story and secrets. In honor of Laura, here are some of my favorite governess stories.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. How could I not start with this? The archetypal governess book. I first read it at the age of nine and discover new things in the story to this day.

The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig. One of my favorite books in a favorite series. I love Laura Grey, intelligent, sensible but with an adventurous heart. And I think it’s cool both Lauren and I, separately, named our quite different governess characters Laura!

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stuart. When I was thirteen I thought this was one of the most romantic books I’d ever read. I still do in many ways. It’s also a Cinderella story and a wonderful, gripping adventure set in the French countryside.

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh. An intensely emotional story that stayed with me long after I read it. Definite echoes of Jane Eyre but with a fresh spin.

The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton. The central characters are the four American débutantes who marry into the British aristocracy, but the governess is an important character in her own right. A wonderful portrait of the limited options faced by women without fortune or family and the challenges of living as a governess part and yet not part of a family. Her name is Laura Testvalley. I honestly didn’t think about her name being Laura as well until I wrote this post. I wonder subconsciously if that’s why I named my own Laura.

What are your favorite governess stories?

Thanks so much, Tracy! I cannot wait to read your governess book. (Which, if I remember correctly, comes out this Friday.)

And why do you think there are so many governesses named Laura?

The Other DaughterGovernesses are a topic dear to my heart right now because the heroine of my upcoming book, The Other Daughter, starts out the novel as a nursery governess. Her life takes some rather strange and ungovernessy twists after that, but the opening of the book is an homage to one of my all time favorite books, Nine Coaches Waiting, which Tracy discusses above.

For 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 overlap….


  1. Lauren on May 11, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I have to add another, more modern one, to my old list– Jennifer Crusie’s “Maybe This Time”, her 1990s-set update of “The Turn of the Screw”.

  2. The Mayfair Affair | The Bubble Bath Reader on May 11, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    […] Tracy is a guest on Lauren’s website with an “If You Like” post of her own. We just finished talking about governess books, thanks to our re-read of The […]

  3. Christine on May 11, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    So glad Tracy has a new book coming out (even though I’m just now getting around to reading the last book, which is fabulous)!

  4. SuzanneH on May 12, 2015 at 2:44 am

    Most of my favourite Governess books have been mentioned but there is one I have a particular soft spot for. Victoria Holt’s The Shivering Sands. I have read it so many times I have lost count.

    • Lynne on May 12, 2015 at 11:52 pm

      I think we’re showing our age, Suzanne, but like you, I think I read it several times. Not for years though…maybe it’s time for a reread.

  5. Tracy Grant on May 12, 2015 at 3:04 am

    Lauren, Jennifer Crusie’s update of “Turn of the Screw” sounds really interesting!

    Christine, I’m glad you’re enjoying “The Berkeley Square Affair” and looking forward to “The Mayfair Affair.”

    Suzanne, I remember reading and enjoying “The Shivering Sands,” about the same time I read “Nine Coaches Waiting.”

  6. Betty S. on May 12, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I would add Julie Klassen’s The Silent Governess – it’s regency, a mystery, disguised identities.

    Tracy – I’m reading A Paris Affair right now.

    And Suzanne, I have a copy of The Shivering Sands on a TBR pile. I read a lot of Victoria Holt long ago, but not sure I read this one.

  7. Tracy Grant on May 12, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation, Betty – The Silent Governess sounds great!

    Excited to hear what you think of The Paris Affair!

  8. Links & Updates | Tracy Grant - Novelist on May 12, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    […] from the ebook version on various platforms. Yesterday I had the fun of doing a guest post on Lauren Willig’s site about governess books (in the course of which I realized that my own Laura shares her name with two […]

  9. Tracy Grant on May 13, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Lynne, I missed your comment about The Shivering Sands. It was definitely decades ago when I read it – but I was a teenager :-).

    • SuzanneH on May 13, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      I was too. I think I remember it so well because I was twelve the first time I read it and it was my first “grown up” book. And wow, what an introduction to gothic romance. I have loved the genre ever since.

  10. […] You can see Tracy’s list of favorite governess books here. […]

  11. Sharlene Martin Moore on May 30, 2015 at 12:07 am

    I love the Orchid Affair and The Secret Pearl. I will have to add the other governess books to my list.
    Tracy your cover is gorgeous, makes me want to just dive right in and start reading.

  12. Diane on June 2, 2015 at 12:01 am

    I, too, love Nine Coaches Waiting. I also like Sharon Shinn’s Jenna Starborn, her retelling of Jane Eyre.

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