The best books about a governess

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56 authors created a book list connected to governess, and here are their favorite governess books.
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What type of governess book?


Book cover of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Sally Page Author Of The Keeper of Stories

From the list on losing yourself in on a rainy day.

Who am I?

I am a writer who will never give you a sad ending! I love books that reflect on life (the good and the bad) but that look for the positive in people. My experience has taught me that there is so much good to find—and as I explore in my debut novel, The Keeper of Stories, everyone has a story to tell. My first novel was published when I was 60, so I am also a believer that you should never underestimate anyone. And I love to see that reflected in books.

Sally's book list on losing yourself in on a rainy day

Discover why each book is one of Sally's favorite books.

Why did Sally love this book?

This book was written in the 1930s, yet it feels remarkably contemporary – a glorious romp through a world of parties, sex, and drugs. Miss Pettigrew stumbles into this world when she mistakenly turns up for the wrong job. With little money in her purse she has no option but to take the position and finds herself having an awful lot more fun than she ever has before. And for once she is really appreciated.

By Winifred Watson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Don’t let this delightfully frothy drawing-room comedy get lost between the sofa cushions.”—

“Miss Pettigrew is irresistible, a perfect mix of wistfulness and joy, substance and froth.”—Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring

“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is perhaps the happiest, most ebullient piece of fiction ever written for adults.”—Newsday

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is now available as an audio book read by Academy Award–winning actress Frances McDormand, who stars in the film as the down-and-out governess Miss Pettigrew, who finds herself caught up in the life of Delysia LaFloss, a glamorous aspiring actress…

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë,

Book cover of Jane Eyre

Deborah Kasdan Author Of Roll Back the World: A Sister's Memoir

From the list on startling encounters with mental illness.

Who am I?

When my older sister died, I felt a pressing need to tell her story. Rachel was a strong, courageous woman, who endured decades in a psychiatric system that failed her. She was a survivor, but the stigma of severe mental illness made her an outcast from most of society. Even so, her enduring passion for poetry inspired me to write about her. I sought out other people’s stories. I enrolled in workshops and therapy. I devoured books and blogs by survivors, advocates, and family members. Everything I read pointed to a troubling rift between the dominant medical model and more humane, less damaging ones. This list represents a slice of my learning.

Deborah's book list on startling encounters with mental illness

Discover why each book is one of Deborah's favorite books.

Why did Deborah love this book?

I first read this novel when I was ten. Pages had fallen out and even though I later found intact copies, I read it over and over to fill the gaps in my understanding.

How I loved the way Jane took charge of her fate with such intelligence, the way she captured Rochester’s heart without demeaning herself. But oh that madwoman she encountered in the attic. What did Jane make of Bertha, this “clothed hyena?”

Unlike Rochester, she didn’t blame Bertha for her violence. And while she understood Rochester’s dilemma she couldn’t agree to stay with him. In an intolerable situation, I learned, you can love a person and still leave them. Then Bertha dies in a fire she sets, allowing the couple to marry. But I never took that tacked-on ending very seriously.

By Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.

She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.

However, there is great kindness and warmth…

Grey Mask

By Patricia Wentworth,

Book cover of Grey Mask

Joan L. Kelly Author Of Notions of Murder

From the list on cozy mysteries to snuggle up with now and then.

Who am I?

I’m a person who likes to nibble on poetry and taste history and non-fiction. But I love to devour fiction, especially mysteries. Reading a feel-good adventure with an excellent plot and engaging characters is my way of relaxing. My philosophy is that life can often be difficult, and fiction stories, such as cozy mysteries, are good therapy. When I’m not reading, quilting, or spending time with my grandkids, I’m writing stories. As a former teacher, I try to live up to the saying: Writing is painting pictures with words.

Joan's book list on cozy mysteries to snuggle up with now and then

Discover why each book is one of Joan's favorite books.

Why did Joan love this book?

Grey Mask is the first of the 32 Miss Silver mysteries. Patricia Wentworth was a master of the English style cozy mystery, writing back in the 1920s. I love that this early-twentieth-century series proves that cozy mysteries have been a favorite genre for decades. Wentworth’s character, Miss Maud Silver, whose little old lady with a passion for knitting persona has a keen intellect and penchant for details. 

Grey Mask begins with Charles Moray returning unexpectedly to his home in England after years overseas. Noticing a light on in his manor, he slips in quietly and eavesdrops on a group of intruders planning a crime. Recognizing one of the voices, Charles hesitates to call the police. Instead, he sneaks away and contacts Maud Silver. The matronly sleuth applies deductive reasoning to disrupt the diabolical plan. I recommend looking to the past and reading Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver series for an enjoyable…

By Patricia Wentworth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grey Mask as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Governess-turned-detective Miss Silver investigates a deadly conspiratorial ring

Charles Moray has come home to England to collect his inheritance. After four years wandering the jungles of India and South America, the hardy young man returns to the manor of his birth, where generations of Morays have lived and died. Strangely, he finds the house unlocked, and sees a light on in one of its abandoned rooms. Eavesdropping, he learns of a conspiracy to commit a fearsome crime.

Never one for the heroic, Charles’s first instinct is to let the police settle it. But then he hears her voice. Margaret, his…

Book cover of The Governess of Highland Hall

Carolyn Miller Author Of The Breakup Project

From the list on for romance-loving Christians.

Who am I?

I’m a long-time lover of Christian romance, and now with over a dozen Christian historical romance books published, and a similar amount of Christian contemporary romances published or soon to be, I think I’m someone who has a true appreciation for romance that is soul-stirringly Christian, not just clean or sweet, but which contains truths that will inspire and encourage as well as entertain with swoon-worthy romance.

Carolyn's book list on for romance-loving Christians

Discover why each book is one of Carolyn's favorite books.

Why did Carolyn love this book?

If you’re like me and a fan of Downton Abbey, then you’ll appreciate the well-researched Edwardian period details found in this charming story, as well as the sweet romance. Julia Foster is not your usual governess, having a remarkable backstory of her own, but the way she cares for the widowed William and his children is heart-warming and will captivate your heart. 

By Carrie Turansky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Governess of Highland Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

More Than 200 5-Star Reviews on Amazon.Finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of ExcellenceWhen a crisis strikes Julia's family in India, she returns to England and takes the position at Highland Hall, a magnificent English country estate. Will she be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?
Family drama, romance, and inspiration for those who love Downton Abbey and Jane Eyre. Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to…

Journey to the River Sea

By Eva Ibbotson, Kevin Hawkes (illustrator),

Book cover of Journey to the River Sea

Glen Huser Author Of Firebird

From the list on historical fiction featuring journeys.

Who am I?

As a child, I was an avid reader and particularly fell in love with historical fiction. My favourite corner for reading was on top of the woodbox by my grandmother’s cookstove. Warm and cozy, I delved into such books as Geoffrey Trease’s Cue for Treason and Jack Schaeffer’s Shane. How wonderful to land for a few hours in the world of Shakespeare’s London or the grasslands of the frontier west. When I worked as a children’s librarian and then began writing books myself, this early love has remained with me—so it factored into the books I chose for schools—and some of the novels I wrote such as The Runaway and Firebird.

Glen's book list on historical fiction featuring journeys

Discover why each book is one of Glen's favorite books.

Why did Glen love this book?

I’m always on the lookout for fiction in which the writing itself is dazzling. Eva Ibbotson’s prose is truly something to savour and this novel is the jewel in her crown. Maia, an orphan, is sent from England to stay with distant relatives, the Carters, in Manaus, Brazil. The family is weird and mean but Maia finds two young friends—Clovis, an actor, and Finn, who is partly a Brazilian native, but heir to his British grandfather’s fortune. Clovis longs to return to England and Finn happily changes places with him. Finn and Maia journey down the Amazon (the “River Sea”) to live with his Xanti people. Expect humour, high adventure, and a richly-detailed look at life in early 20th century Brazil.

By Eva Ibbotson, Kevin Hawkes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Journey to the River Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is 1910 - Maia, orphaned at 13, travels from England to start a new life with distant relatives in Manaus, hundreds of miles up the Amazon. She is very unhappy with her exceptionally bizarre new family but befriends Finn, a mysterious English boy who lives with the local Indians and shares her passion for the jungle. Then Finn's past life catches up with him and they are forced to flee far upriver in a canoe, pursued by an assortment of brilliantly eccentric characters that only Eva Ibbotson could invent.

The Sugar Baron's Governess

By Elva Cobb Martin,

Book cover of The Sugar Baron's Governess

Grace A. Johnson Author Of Held Captive

From the list on romantic swashbuckling adventure.

Who am I?

Since I was twelve years old and scribbling stories in an old notebook, I’ve been in love with pirate romance. The intense adventure, the dramatic romance, the freedom of the sea—and most importantly, the chance to find love and redemption, a theme that’s prominent in my Christian pirate romance series and the novels I read and enjoy! This list curates some of the top pirate/privateer novels I’ve read, all with clean romance and inspiring themes, to keep your TBR filled with swashbuckling high-seas voyages!

Grace's book list on romantic swashbuckling adventure

Discover why each book is one of Grace's favorite books.

Why did Grace love this book?

Elva Cobb Martin is a household name in the Christian pirate romance genre, but I’d never read any of her works until I picked up The Sugar Baron’s Governess. My first novel by her certainly won’t be my last! This perfect combination of sweet romance and fast-paced adventure reminded me why I love this genre so much, and I know it’ll inspire a love for pirate romance in all who read it! Even though it’s the fourth novel in a series, don’t be afraid to dive right in and enjoy! 

By Elva Cobb Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sugar Baron's Governess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She needs a new start...He knows a reckoning is coming.

Banished from Charleston for his misdeeds years earlier, Joshua Becket built a new life on both sides of the law in Jamaica. But he guards a secret identity. As a sugar plantation owner and member of the governing British Assembly, he's known and respected on the island. As swashbuckling Captain Jay, he leads daredevil privateering exploits on his ship, the Eagle, when the mood suits him. Currently, he needs a governess for his young daughter.

Widowed gentlewoman Abigail Welch accepted the governess position, leaving behind her disintegrated life in Charleston.…

Book cover of Still Life with Murder

Nhys Glover Author Of The Barbarian's Mistress

From the list on hot, tortured heroes saved by love.

Who am I?

I’ve always read and written Romance. But while my real life took center stage, I consigned my manuscripts to gather dust in my bottom desk drawer and went off to teach English and History and raise a family. When my real life got less hectic and the Indie Revolution started, I dragged my stories out, dusted them off, and started publishing them. Lo and behold, readers loved them as much as I did, and suddenly I had a whole new career. Teaching literature tends to make you critical, and I was super-critical of my ‘trashy’ romances. Now I’m proud I write stories women can read to relax and be entertained by. 

Nhys' book list on hot, tortured heroes saved by love

Discover why each book is one of Nhys' favorite books.

Why did Nhys love this book?

This is the first in the Nell Sweeney Mystery series. And the slow-burn romance extends over the whole series. Set in 19th Century Boston, these little gems kept me on the edge of my seat, while immersing me in the historical period.

Normally, I don’t find drug addicts make for the best romantic heroes, but William Hewett is not your typical hero. Sure, he was a surgeon in the Civil War, where he was injured physically and emotionally and has become hooked on opium because of it, but he’s not a scorch-your-panties-off kind of hot. (It is the Victorian era, after all.) Yet he’s a compelling character and perfect for the heroine who helps to save him. I found I was rooting for this pair every step of the way. I wanted him to heal, kick his habit, and have his HEA with the unconventional Miss Sweeney.

By P.B. Ryan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Still Life with Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“What a thoroughly charming book! A beautiful combination of entertaining characters, minute historical research, and a powerful evocation of time and place.” —NYT bestselling author Barbara Hambly

Boston, 1868: The dawn of the Gilded Age, an era of burgeoning commerce and invention, of unimaginable new fortunes and lavish excess—for some. Born into poverty, young Nell Sweeney scratches by on her wits and little else until fortune blesses her with a position as nursery governess to the fabulously wealthy Hewitts. But she soon learns that ugly secrets lurk beneath the surface of their gold-plated world.

The Hewitts’ eldest son, William, a…

The Looking Glass House

By Vanessa Tait,

Book cover of The Looking Glass House

Mark Davies Author Of Alice in Waterland: Lewis Carroll and the River Thames in Oxford

From the list on Lewis Carroll and Alice.

Who am I?

I am an Oxford local historian, and the only Oxford guide endorsed by the Lewis Carroll Society. I have helped shape Oxford’s annual Alice’s Day since the first one in 2007, and have participated in French, Dutch, Canadian, Brazilian and British TV and radio documentaries, most notably for BBC 2 and BBC Radio 4. My interest is mainly the many Oxford realities which are hidden away within the apparent fantasy of the ‘Alice’ books, an angle which has enabled me to lecture on this internationally famous topic as far away as Assam in India. Subsequently, my appreciation of Carroll’s versatility as a mathematician, photographer, inventor, diarist, and letter writer has grown steadily over the years.

Mark's book list on Lewis Carroll and Alice

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

This fictional interpretation of the creation of Alice’s Adventures is seen from the viewpoint of a constant, yet largely unremarked, fixture during these critical years: the Liddell family governess, Mary Prickett. The Oxford context of the time is convincingly depicted, and some of the burning issues of the day – Darwinism and Nonconformism, for instance – are interwoven with the more immediate tensions within the Liddell household, interpreted by an author who has more right than anyone to comment because Tait is the great-granddaughter of the real Alice herself. To sustain the pace she condenses the real events of 1857 to 1863 into a single fictionalised year, drawing on many well-known facts and suppositions – including Carroll’s rumoured amorous interest in Miss Prickett – and some lesser known details from her own family’s archives.

By Vanessa Tait,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Looking Glass House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Oxford, 1862. Poor, plain Mary Prickett takes up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church. When Mary meets Charles Dodgson, a friend of the family, she is flattered by his attentions and becomes convinced he plans to propose marriage. But it is also clear that he is drawn to the little girls in Mary's care, and on a boating trip one sunny day Mr Dodgson tells the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland a curious tale about the precocious Alice Liddell

As Mary waits for her life to change, she becomes increasingly suspicious of…


By Alfred Habegger,

Book cover of Masked: The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam

Wendy Bashant Author Of The Same Bright Moon: Teaching China's New Generation During Covid

From the list on teaching abroad.

Who am I?

I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years and a traveler for longer. As a child, I lived in Germany and Japan. When I grew up, I continued to travel, teaching and living in Thailand, London, and China. I’ve written book chapters, poetry, travel pieces, and won a number of writing prizes: the 2023 New York Book Festival prize and a finalist for both the Peter Taylor Prize for Literature and the Gival Press Novel Award. A graduate of Middlebury College (BA) and University of Rochester (PhD), I now live in San Diego with my husband and two cats, teach adult literacy, and work as a volunteer at the San Diego Zoo.

Wendy's book list on teaching abroad

Discover why each book is one of Wendy's favorite books.

Why did Wendy love this book?

Perhaps the most famous teacher abroad is Anna Leonowens, who was immortalized in the musical The King and I. A lowly Victorian woman single-handedly reshapes the history of Thailand. If you want to read that story you can read Margaret Landon’s Anna and the King of Siam.

Far more interesting is Anna’s true story: a con artist, who lies about everything that happened to her. Habegger’s biography Masked sorts through the lies and fiction. He offers a complicated narrative of a biracial woman who told exaggerated tales of enslavement, romance, and her imagined role in democratizing Thailand. Her life becomes one of fancy and self-invention. Both sadly are traps too often seen in myths crafted by self-absorbed travelers living abroad.

By Alfred Habegger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Masked as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brave British widow goes to Siam and-by dint of her principled and indomitable character-inspires that despotic nation to abolish slavery and absolute rule: this appealing legend first took shape after the Civil War when Anna Leonowens came to America from Bangkok and succeeded in becoming a celebrity author and lecturer. Three decades after her death, in the 1940s and 1950s, the story would be transformed into a powerful Western myth by Margaret Landon's best-selling book Anna and the King of Siam and Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The King and I.

But who was Leonowens and why did her story…

Nine Coaches Waiting

By Mary Stewart,

Book cover of Nine Coaches Waiting

Elisabeth Grace Foley Author Of Land of Hills and Valleys

From the list on vintage mystery-suspense.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved history, devoured mystery fiction, and scribbled my own stories. Today I combine all those passions by writing books in classic mystery-suspense style, but set in the place and the period of history that fascinates me the most: the American West. I firmly believe that the Old West should be treated not merely as a myth or a set of tropes, but a historical period in its own right, and so I love to use it as the setting for character-driven stories drawing on my favorite elements of the mystery genre.

Elisabeth's book list on vintage mystery-suspense

Discover why each book is one of Elisabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elisabeth love this book?

This is one of those special books that made me think, “Oh my…I want to write like this.” The blend of old-world atmosphere, 1950s glamor, and gorgeously descriptive, suspenseful writing is magical. Linda Martin, a young Englishwoman with a secret of her own to guard, takes the post of governess to the small heir of a French chateau—a fairytale setting, but disturbing tensions run beneath its surface, and before long Linda finds herself caught up in a desperate attempt to foil a dangerous plot.

By Mary Stewart,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nine Coaches Waiting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A tense thrillerabout an English girl who becomes governess to a young French heir to great estates in Savoy. Having deceived her employers about her ability to speak French, she discovers that they are trying to kill her young charge.

The Little Princesses

By Marion Crawford,

Book cover of The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by Her Nanny, Marion Crawford

Robert Lacey Author Of Majesty: Elizabeth II and the House of Windsor

From the list on about the Queen.

Who am I?

Robert Lacey is credited with changing the way that people read and write about the British monarchy. In 1977 his tell-it-how-it-is Majesty: Elizabeth II and the House of Windsor overturned the clichés of the traditional ‘royal book’, hitherto the preserve of ex-nannies and obsequious court correspondents. As a Cambridge-trained historian of the first Elizabethan age – his biographies Robert, Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Ralegh won critical acclaim – the young journalist added the investigative techniques of his work on the Sunday Times to portray the monarchy in a fresh and analytical fashion. Robert is today Historical Consultant to the Netflix TV series The Crown.

Robert's book list on about the Queen

Discover why each book is one of Robert's favorite books.

Why did Robert love this book?

"I really don’t know what we’re going to do with Margaret, Crawfie!" declared Lilibet anxiously to the original nanny diarist. "Poor Lil," responded Margaret, when rumours of her sister’s romance with Philip hit the papers. "Nothing of your own. Not even your love affair!" In the US, this first inside account of life with the modern royals boosted the circulation of the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine by half a million. But in Britain, Buckingham Palace complained that the letters quoted from the princesses breached royal copyright and insisted they be removed. Lilibet never forgave Crawfie for the betrayal embodied in this sickly, but oh-so-revealing tome.  

By Marion Crawford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Little Princesses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1950, The Little Princesses was the first account of British Royal life inside Buckingham Palace as revealed by Marion Crawford, who served as governess to princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

A twenty-two year old teacher recruited to look after the Duke and Duchess of York’s young daughters in 1931, Marion Crawford―affectionately known as “Crawfie” by her charges―spent sixteen years with the Royal family as the children’s governess. From King Edward VIII’s abdication of the throne in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson and King George VI’s subsequent crowning, through World War II, and all the way to…

A Foreign Affair

By Caro Peacock,

Book cover of A Foreign Affair

John B. Campbell Author Of A Lark Ascending

From the list on British mysteries of the Victorian Era.

Who am I?

As a fine arts major alumnus of Lake Forest College and Illinois Wesleyan University, I have written a variety of works, fiction and non, throughout my professional life. My preferred literary escape became the genre of British Mystery. I learned much from reading Martha Grimes in the 1990s. Her use of interplay between a character’s internal psychic landscape and the surrounding one interested me. As a mystery writer, I employ what I think of as light brushstrokes of the cozy genre while aiming for some depth of prose. A Lark Ascending has been described as an engaging escape from today.

John's book list on British mysteries of the Victorian Era

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

The year is 1837 and Liberty is a fiercely independent young woman. The story begins with her crossing the Channel to find her father, only to discover that he had recently been killed in a duel. In the course of investigating what had happened, she comes upon a plot that involves treason, with the potential to spark another civil war.

What I love about Peacock’s work is her use of imagery in echoing a character’s psyche or situation. Horse lovers will enjoy Liberty’s relationship with her horse and her growing friendship with her good-hearted stable hand. I have not yet put my finger on it, but for some reason, I feel a hint of Edgar Allen Poe when I read her books.

By Caro Peacock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Foreign Affair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A remarkable debut novel rich in atmosphere, color, and suspense, Caro Peacock's A Foreign Affair is an irresistible blend of history, adventure, and ingenious invention that brings an extraordinary new writer—and a truly endearing and unforgettable heroine—to the literary stage.

The year is 1837. Queen Victoria, barely eighteen, has just ascended to the throne of England, and a young woman named Liberty Lane has just had her first taste of true sorrow. Refusing to accept that her gentle, peace-loving father has been killed fighting a duel, she vows to see justice done. . . .

The trail she follows is…

The Governesses

By Anne Serre, Mark Hutchinson (translator),

Book cover of The Governesses

Olivia Gatwood Author Of Life of the Party: Poems

From the list on poets who want to write fiction.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing poetry for most of my life and only recently began a real crash course in fiction with my first novel. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but not for the reasons I thought. In poetry, you learn to locate meaning, but you don’t learn narrative structure. Who knew being an existential genius was easier than finishing a sentence? Once I started studying literature that I felt embodied both, I was able to visualize how my poetic voice wasn’t just applicable, but useful, in the world of fiction.

Olivia's book list on poets who want to write fiction

Discover why each book is one of Olivia's favorite books.

Why did Olivia love this book?

This French novella was written in the early ’90s but translated in 2019 to English for the first time. It lacks structure and is full of plot holes, but Serre’s writing is equal parts whimsical and erotic. It feels a bit like she wrote it in one sitting during some kind of fever dream but that’s why it feels like a poem. If you’re into chaotic women and turn of the century kink, then this is for you.

By Anne Serre, Mark Hutchinson (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Governesses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a large country house shut off from the world by a gated garden, three young governesses responsible for the education of a group of little boys are preparing a party. The governesses, however, seem to spend more time running around in a state of frenzied desire than attending to the children's education. One of their main activities is lying in wait for any passing stranger, and then throwing themselves on him like drunken Maenads. The rest of the time they drift about in a kind of sated, melancholy calm, spied upon by an old man in the house opposite,…

Love at Second Sight

By Cathy Hopkins,

Book cover of Love at Second Sight

Kathryn Reiss Author Of Dreadful Sorry

From the list on reincarnation for kids and teens.

Who am I?

When I was a girl, my grandmother called me an ‘old soul’ and said she thought my fascination with the 19th century meant that I’d lived then in another life. Ever since, this notion that a person might have lived before has always fascinated me! I gravitate to books that bring the past and present together in all sorts of ways–through memory, ghosts, time travel…and reincarnation. Now my own books of suspense for kids and teens deal with many of those same themes. I always write books I would want to read myself!

Kathryn's book list on reincarnation for kids and teens

Discover why each book is one of Kathryn's favorite books.

Why did Kathryn love this book?

This is another tale that starts with a fortune-teller—but this time it’s teenage Jo who gets her future told. The clairvoyant tells her that there is only one true love for her—but the last time Jo saw him was in a past life! Now she needs to find him in this life. Jo doesn’t believe a word of this, but events start to unsettle her. Could reincarnation possibly be true? But what if she can’t recognize her soul-mate when she finds him again in this life? I love the suspense elements in this book as well as the romance.

By Cathy Hopkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love at Second Sight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unlucky in love Jo is dragged along to see a clairvoyant by her two coupled-up best friends, and is told that there's only one boy for her. The trouble is, the last time she saw him was in a past life, when she worked as a governess to his younger brother. The clairvoyant tells her that as she is back in this life, so is he, and she must find him if she is ever to know true happiness and love.

Jo doesn't believe a word of it - but then a series of events begin to change her mind.…

The Captive Heart

By Michelle Griep,

Book cover of The Captive Heart

MaryLu Tyndall Author Of Veil of Pearls

From the list on on the edge of your seat Christian romance.

Who am I?

What can I say? I’m a hopeless romantic. There’s nothing better than a great romance novel set in the past when chivalry was not dead. I’m a published author of more than twenty-five novels, including a great pirate series. I grew up in Florida and fell in love with the tropics as I sat on the beach and dreamt of handsome pirates. Once I became a Christian, I started reading Christian romances but found many of them moved a little slow to my liking, so I decided to write one myself! I have a BA in Computer Science and have won several awards for my writing.   

MaryLu's book list on on the edge of your seat Christian romance

Discover why each book is one of MaryLu's favorite books.

Why did MaryLu love this book?

Reminiscent of the wildness, adventure, and romance of The Last of the Mohicans, Captive Heart sizzles on every page. This is Michelle Griep's best book yet and one that played out before my eyes like an epic movie I kept wanting to watch over and over. The romance is perfect, the adventure nonstop, and the characters really touch your heart. 

By Michelle Griep,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Captive Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The wild American wilderness is no place for an elegant English governess

On the run from a brute of an aristocratic employer, Eleanor Morgan escapes from England to America, the land of the free, for the opportunity to serve an upstanding Charles Town family. But freedom is hard to come by as an indentured servant, and downright impossible when she’s forced to agree to an even harsher contract—marriage to a man she’s never met.

Backwoodsman Samuel Heath doesn’t care what others think of him—but his young daughter’s upbringing matters very much. The life of a trapper in the Carolina backcountry…

Mistress of Mellyn

By Victoria Holt,

Book cover of Mistress of Mellyn

Lisa Harris Author Of The Catch

From the list on suspense that will keep you up at night.

Who am I?

As an avid reader growing up, this list of books was influential in not only fostering my love of story, but also for inspiring me to become a writer. These books showed me what makes a page-turning story; from creating a rich setting to developing authentic characters with tension-filled dialogue, to heart-pounding twists and turns. In the end, the readers are taken on a suspenseful journey that will keep them up all night. 

Lisa's book list on suspense that will keep you up at night

Discover why each book is one of Lisa's favorite books.

Why did Lisa love this book?

A slight genre shift from the typical romantic suspense novel is the Gothic romance, and Victoria Holt (the pen name for Eleanor Hibbert) was one of the best. Like many of the stories published in this genre, there is a young woman, Martha Leigh, hired on as a governess to a troubled widow whose wife died under mysterious circumstances. Settings—as in all gothic novels—play a strong role in this story with its foreboding mansion and the untamed cliffs of Cornwall.

By Victoria Holt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mistress of Mellyn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mount Mellyn stood as proud and magnificent as she had envisioned...But what bout its master--Connan TreMellyn? Was Martha Leigh's new employer as romantic as his name sounded?  As she approached the sprawling mansion towering above the cliffs of Cornwall, an odd chill of apprehension overcame her.  TreMellyn's young daugher, Alvean, proved as spoiled and difficult as the three governesses before Martha had discovered.  But it was the girl's father whose cool, arrogant demeanor unleashed unfimiliar sensations and turmoil--even as whispers of past tragedy and present danger begin to insinuate themselves into Martha's life.  Powerless against her growing desire for the…

In The Viscount's Arms

By Allyson Jeleyne,

Book cover of In The Viscount's Arms

Sophie Barnes Author Of Mr. Dale and the Divorcée

From the list on historical romance by contemporary authors.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing historical romance novels and novellas for over ten years now and have read extensively from this genre during that time. I’m currently working on my 42nd book where a governess in her mid-thirties finds love with her wealthy boss. Writing romance may seem easy, but it actually requires a lot of research and poses the challenge of being dependent on the gradual emotional development of two protagonists whose journeys intertwine. As a former editor of mine once put it, there are a lot of gears in motion, all of which have to work smoothly together. The stories I’ve chosen to mention are excellent examples of this. I hope you’ll enjoy each one.

Sophie's book list on historical romance by contemporary authors

Discover why each book is one of Sophie's favorite books.

Why did Sophie love this book?

This book immediately stood out to me for a couple of reasons: the setting was vividly described, the characters engaged in simple everyday tasks that not only added depth but helped paint a picture of the era, and the author managed to make this story extremely sexy without explicit lovemaking scenes. I stopped writing explicit scenes years ago and have since aimed for a more sensual tone, which actually poses a much bigger challenge. So I’m always interested to see how other authors (of which I’ve encountered only a few), tackle such scenes in a more suggestive manner while still conveying the passion between the hero and heroine successfully. This book is an excellent example of how less truly can be more.

By Allyson Jeleyne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In The Viscount's Arms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reeling from the death of her parents, eldest daughter Octavia strives to be a source of strength for her sisters. She defies their grandfather’s high-handed meddling—and his desire to see the Staunton girls married. She forges her own path to independence, which leads to the gates of Caswell Hall. There, the governess has just quit her post, leaving a vacant spot in the local lord’s household.

Simon, Viscount Althorne, is impressed by the sensible, dark-haired beauty, and hires her to teach his wayward young niece. He resents the loss of his carefree bachelor days, and longs to see the child…

Book cover of The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories

Charlotte Greene Author Of Gnarled Hollow

From the list on haunted houses to scare the bejesus out of you.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of sapphic horror and romance fiction, and a professor of nineteenth and twentieth literature and Women’s and Gender Studies. I’ve been an avid reader of ghost-focused fiction since I was a little kid. This fascination was, in part, encouraged by my horror-loving parents, but I think I’ve just always loved being scared, and for me, the scariest thing imaginable is a haunted house. I’ve read widely in the genre, by turns spooked, thrilled, and baffled, and this reading eventually encouraged me to write my own haunted house novels. If you love a chilling tale, you’re going to love the books on this list.

Charlotte's book list on haunted houses to scare the bejesus out of you

Discover why each book is one of Charlotte's favorite books.

Why did Charlotte love this book?

While there are haunted house-like novels before James’s 1898 classic, this in many ways is a granddaddy of modern haunted tales. An isolated country estate? Check. A creepy housekeeper? Check. Two even creepier children, possibly possessed? Check, check! When the unnamed narrator is hired as the new governess in a remote country home in England, she arrives to find that her two young wards are already nearly corrupted by the ghosts of the former governess and groundskeeper. As she works to save them, the narrator herself is threatened, both by the ghosts and by the children she’s meant to save. The psychological possibilities of this book, however, linger at the edges of the text, threatening to undermine the whole notion of what this haunting really is.

By Henry James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young, inexperienced governess is charged with the care of Miles and Flora, two small children abandoned by their uncle at his grand country house. She sees the figure of an unknown man on the tower and his face at the window. It is Peter Quint, the master's dissolute valet, and he has come for little Miles. But Peter Quint is dead.

Like the other tales collected here - `Sir Edmund Orme', `Owen Wingrave', and `The Friends of the Friends' - `The Turn of the Screw' is to all immediate appearances a ghost story. But are the appearances what they…

The Thirteenth Tale

By Diane Setterfield,

Book cover of The Thirteenth Tale

Amy Young Author Of The Water Tower

From the list on mysteries and thrillers set in a dark academic setting.

Who am I?

I’m not sure where my love of thrillers in dark settings originated. I’ve always loved mysteries – starting out with Nancy Drew as a kid and then graduating to more mature material as I got older – and a setting that feels like a character in itself is fascinating to me. My love of the dark, moody element has developed as I’ve gotten older I spent my twenties reading a lot of chick lit and upbeat fiction, but something has shifted in the last decade or so that caused me to embrace the darkness a bit more. 

Amy's book list on mysteries and thrillers set in a dark academic setting

Discover why each book is one of Amy's favorite books.

Why did Amy love this book?

In what I would call a modern gothic setting, the story revolves around a reclusive author and the missing thirteenth tale from her collection of stories.

The author commissions a biographer to write the story of her life, which she has fictionalized throughout her entire career. There’s a governess, ghosts, an amazing garden, and an insane fire – all of which stack up for one heck of a great novel.

By Diane Setterfield,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Thirteenth Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Simply brilliant' Kate Mosse, international bestselling author of Labyrinth


Everybody has a story...

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten.

It was once home to the March family: fascinating, manipulative Isabelle; brutal, dangerous Charlie; and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But the house hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart...

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield's past, and its mysterious connection to the enigmatic writer Vida Winter. Vida's history is mesmering - a tale of ghosts, governesses, and gothic strangeness. But as Margaret succumbs to the power…

The Turn of the Screw

By Henry James,

Book cover of The Turn of the Screw

Thomas Reed Author Of Pocketful of Poseys

From the list on siblings in trying circumstances.

Who am I?

I taught my first three recommendations as an English professor at Dickinson College. Since I retired, I’m constantly on the lookout for books worth discussing. Growing up, my feelings towards my brilliant and accomplished older sister cycled between awe, jealousy, resentment, and affection. That must partly account for the draw of books that explore the shared experiences and complex relationships of siblings. She’s sadly gone now, but watching the closening ties and lingering frictions between my own daughter and son keeps that interest alive—as does my constant witnessing of my wife’s rich relationship with her two older brothers. Since Cain and Abel, it’s all been about siblings.

Thomas' book list on siblings in trying circumstances

Discover why each book is one of Thomas' favorite books.

Why did Thomas love this book?

James’s novella is the closest thing I know to a literary version of the “Rabbit or Duck?” illusion— either a ghost story or a case study in psychopathology, depending on your perspective.

Miles and Flora, 10 and 8, are Victorian orphans left in the charge of an uncaring uncle. Their governess is far more attentive, but her own cloistered religious upbringing hasn’t prepared her for a world of anything other than Purity versus Corruption.

When she learns that the previous governess at Bly House was seduced by the uncle’s valet, she’s driven at any cost to purge the children of their vile influences—which she thinks they continue to exert as ghosts. But is she the only dangerous adult presence?

A chilling look at the power of puritanical ideology and the total dependence of children on their educators and caregivers, this book is well worth whacking through the thicket of James’s…

By Henry James,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Turn of the Screw as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A most wonderful, lurid, poisonous little tale' Oscar Wilde

The Turn of the Screw, James's great masterpiece of haunting atmosphere and unbearable tension, tells of a young governess sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a dark foreboding of menace within the house, she soon comes to believe that something, or someone, malevolent is stalking the children in her care. Is the threat to her young charges really a malign and ghostly presence, or a manifestation of something else entirely?

Edited and with an Introduction and Notes by David Bromwich