Governess Story


Where do you get your story ideas?

My latest story idea came from my friend Julie. She recently returned a manuscript of mine that she’d had at her house and with it was a chapter I had written about a governess and a marquess. I had forgotten all about this story! But once jogged, I remembered it very well.
It is a governess story and I can hardly wait to start writing it.
Ever since reading Jane Eyre, I’ve loved the fantasy of the governess winding up with the lord. It was one of my favorite themes in traditional regencies and one of my favorite variations on the Cinderella story.
In Emma, Jane Austen gives us a good idea of a governess’s fate, both in a positive way–her own beloved governess, Miss Taylor, who was treated as a beloved family member and who married well–and a negative way–Jane Fairfax, who looks upon the prospect of becoming a governess with as a fate akin to death. Charlotte Bronte’s later depiction of a governess is similarly bleak, and includes the gothic elements that Victoria Holt (another of my favorites) popularized in later years in The Mistress of Mellyn, or another classic, Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart.
Here’s a long list of traditional regencies with governess heroines.
I think governesses are perfect for Cinderella plots, because their status and situation set them apart from the society in which they live. Often they are depicted as well-born young ladies fallen on hard times who must toil for long hours for little pay. They neither fit in with the servant class nor the class of their employers. (But they might befriend some darling mice and pretty little birds–and have a fairy godmother)
Do you like governess stories, or are you (gasp) sick of them? If you like them, do you have a favorite?
Our guest for next Sunday has written a governess story. Christine Merrill will join us to talk about her latest release, Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess.
Hurry up and comment on yesterday’s interview with Lavinia Klein if you want a chance to win a download of Kathryn the Kitten or a Real Duchesses of London T-shirt. I’m picking the winners at midnight.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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9 Responses to Governess Story

  1. Kat says:

    I don’t think I have read a governess story lately. Titles are eluding my mind… the only ones I can think of are musicals hmm… The King and I, Sound of Music. I think you should write this governess story but throw me at least a secondary character that’s a soldier or Captain Von Trapp was a soldier.

  2. Judy says:

    I’m looking forward to your governess story! For me, what a heroine’s occupation is isn’t nearly as important as what type of person she is. Occupation gives variety to the story, like location.

  3. Elena Greene says:

    I’ve liked a lot of governess stories and there seem to be several common themes: the gothic (as in Jane Eyre) and the family that needs a makeover (as in Sound of Music). Or both could be combined.

    Although I like it, I haven’t come up with a fresh twist on the governess story myself. Looking forward to see what you do with it, Diane!

  4. I love governess stories! I will snap up anything with “governess” in the titles, LOL.

    You probably already have it, Diane, but have you read Ruth Brandon’s “Governesses”? A great look at real-life governesses and their lifestyles

  5. Diane Gaston says:

    Kat, I think it is funny that I decided to write a governess story and then I discovered Christine Merrill’s latest is a governess story!!! Happened to me with my artist hero, too. Something wafts through the air….

    Judy, I hope my heroine is up to your standards!!

    Elena, I have to get approval from my editor first, which I hope will not be a problem.

    Amanda, I do have that book. I think I need to take another look at it.

  6. zh. says:

    I just re-read “The Reluctant Widow” by Georgette Heyer. In that one the heroine is so reluctant to stay a governess that she agrees to marry Eustace, the drunken malicious man who ends up dying the morning after their marriage. Add some other circumstances — spies, dogs, little brothers, and an excellent hero — and it all combines together for a novel full of shenanigans 🙂 Good fun!

  7. Artie Mesia says:

    I just read “Something Like Regret” by Kara Louise which is a different take on Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth Bennet ends up as a governess. I actually liked the story idea, but I didn’t like its execution. There were places that I just wanted to scream “That wouldn’t happen in real life Regency England!!!” That was the moment I realized I had become a Regency snob. It happens to the best of us, right? I even wrote a blog post about it.

    I will read your story Diane because I love you and your books. I always have and always will. You always give me something new.

  8. Diane Gaston says:

    zh, I remember reading The Reluctant Widow…I just can’t remember the story very well 🙂

    Artie Mesia, what a nice thing to say to me!!!! You’ve quite put me to the blush….

    And NOTHING wrong with being a Regency snob. Happens to the best of us!

  9. I love governess stories! I have since the first time I read Jane Eyre. (Which was more years ago than I care to remember!) My second novel is a governess story.

    And I am really excited to hear you are going to write a governess story, O Divine One! Can’t wait to read it!

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