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The Manor House Governess

"This Jane Eyre retelling blends the historical and modern, centering a delicate gender-nonconforming governess "

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

‘He’d brought himself up on anything Victorian, everything Georgian, and mourned like a loss his having not been born into one of these earlier times. [Books] provided a shoothing nostalgia for a life he’d never known, an escape from the loneliness of every day.’ 

Starring the gentle, sentimental Bron, a sensitive man trying to leave behind the homophobia of the all-boy’s school which is all he’s ever known. Arriving in Cambridge at the otherworldly Manor House, he meets his teasing, precocious ward Ada, who he is looking after as eponymous ‘governess’ – even though her education is already reams ahead of his. An edginess arrives to the otherwise delicate world through the arrival of Darcy (no prizes for guessing he’s the misunderstood, proud and prejudiced love interest!). The absent 29-year-old man of the house clashes with Bronte: Bron feels his queerness – both gay and gender nonconforming – is treated very differently to Darcy’s rich, handsome homosexuality. (But don’t worry, there’s a happy ending!) 

It’s an interesting mix of historical and modern, the style and setting feeling historical, but set in the modern world and including technology and characters have recognisably mixed reactions to contemporary politics. Fans of Jane Eyre will be expecting certain mysteries – fires, lockets, secrets of the family – but Castle mixes up these plots enough to mean that these don’t spoil their contents too early. Reading The Manor House Governess feels similar to beloved fanfiction, where there’s a lingering on the incremental feelings in close relationships, on how characters dress and dance and speak in their intimate interactions. 

Lily Lindon

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