Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby
Godmersham Park is the poignant, character-driven story of Anne Sharpe, a governess who works for the Austen family and becomes friends with Jane Austen.
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Biographical Fiction, Jane Austen, Family Drama, England
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My Summary of Godmersham Park:
Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby. Thank you @Pegasus_Books @AustenProse #AustenProsePR for a complimentary e ARC of #GodmershamPark upon my request. All opinions are my own.
Thirty-one year old Anne Sharpe must support herself after her mother dies and her estranged father gives her a meager allowance. Even though Anne has no experience, she takes a position as governess for the Austen family and has charge of twelve-year-old Fanny. When Jane Austen comes to visit, Jane and Anne find that they are kindred spirits and write plays together and enjoy long discussions. Anne needs to carefully navigate the situation because she’s neither one of the servants nor one of the family.
My Thoughts About Godmersham Park:
Have you considered the options for supporting yourself as a woman in the early 1800s?
Governess is an Option
One of only a few options for women in the 1800s who need to support themselves is that of a governess. I appreciate the challenge of thinking more about the intricacies of this position as it relates to class. Anne struggles because the servants and family alike don’t fully accept her as one of them. She needs to work closely with the servants and gain their trust, support, and friendship at the same time she’s included in family activities but not part of the family. It’s a lonely and challenging position which is further complicated when Jane’s brother, Henry, takes an interest in her. The author portrays the complexity of Anne’s life realistically and poignantly.
One of the most endearing and interesting themes is the quiet friendship that develops between Anne and Jane. A minimum of historical documentation exists, but the author makes a compelling case with the available information.
Godmersham Park is quiet, character-driven, biographical fiction written in the style of Jane Austen. Because there is very little historical information on Anne Sharpe, the author imagines the circumstances that lead Miss Sharpe to seek employment as a governess and the remainder of the content is gleaned from Fanny Austen’s diaries. For me, it is interesting to imagine life in the early 1800s and the limited options for a woman supporting herself.
Recommending Godmersham Park
Godmersham Park is recommended for readers of quiet, character-driven, literary fiction and for fans of Jane Austen who might be looking for historical insights into her private life.
Related: Another historical fiction book about Jane Austen’s work is The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner.
Meet the Author of Godmersham Park, Gill Hornby
Gill Hornby is the author of the novels The Hive and All Together Now, as well as The Story of Jane Austen, a biography of Austen for young readers. She lives in Kintbury, England, with her husband and their four children.
Are you a Jane Austen fan?
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