Elizabeth Gilbert's (Eat, Pray, Love) latest work of fiction is an epic and engulfing historical wandering into the worlds of botany and life in the e...moreElizabeth Gilbert's (Eat, Pray, Love) latest work of fiction is an epic and engulfing historical wandering into the worlds of botany and life in the early 18th century. The story follows the life of Alma Whittaker, daughter of a highly successful and enterprising botanist and pharmaceuticals manufacturer (with a very fascinating prelude about him and how he came to be the successful man he was). Alma is graced with the keen intelligence of both her parents and takes up botany at a very young age. Despite her mother's emphasis on moral propriety, she also discovers herself as a sexual being and looks forward to the day she will marry and couple with a man. But that day seems, for a very long time, like it will never come for Alma, as we follow her into adulthood and then old age through her eventful and thought-provoking life.
To be honest, a lot of the tension that drove me to keep reading at a pretty quick pace was "is this girl ever gonna get laid?" But what I loved about the story was that you never knew where it was going and it took so many unexpected turns. It was definitely an adventure, seeing where the tail would go next. And the prose were phenomenal, making it easy to lose yourself in the story and not realize that time was actually still passing around you, as you read.
This is a novella prequel to Milan's Brothers Sinister series, my first foray into Courtney Milan's novels, and maybe even my first time reading a tru...moreThis is a novella prequel to Milan's Brothers Sinister series, my first foray into Courtney Milan's novels, and maybe even my first time reading a true romance novel. I had Milan on my to-read list because she used to work where I work and several of my co-workers had told me about her foray into romance writing. I was definitely coming from a place of guarded hope but low expectation. For all that, I have to say that I was very, very pleased with The Governess Affair in all aspects.
The story is told from the point of view of Hugo Marshall, dubbed "The Wolf of Clermont" for his ruthless dealings on behalf of the financially challenged Duke of Clermont, his pseudo-employer. Hugo is a fixer of problems, but Clermont's latest problem seems a bit of a stumper. He has a young woman (the governess) loitering outside his house, refusing to go away and determined to sully Clermont's name for what he did to her. But what did he do to her? She will not say. And neither will Clermont. So Hugo is left to discover the source and resolve the conflict, while also battling his own growing attraction to the young woman and his growing reservations about the dubious morals of his employer.
This story hit gold on so many levels: writing, character development, plot, dialogue, and romance were all spot on. I found it highly enjoyable to read and had an immediate desire to pick up the next book in the series. My only disappointment was that the Brothers Sinister series is actually about the children of Hugo and Clermont, not about Hugo himself. I thought he was such a great character, I would have liked to read more stories about him. I'm sure readers coming from the other direction--having read the series already and now coming to the prequel--will enjoy reading about the history of the two brothers and how their situation came to be.(less)