At a tender age I read Charlotte Brontë’s classic “Jane Eyre“. Ever since, I’ve been a sucker for novels that feature English governesses – which is why I chose to read this novella.
The story is set at the magnificent mansion ‘Rockbridge Hall’ is Nottinghamshire, in 1890. It is but one of the homes of the wealthy Manverham family. Mr. Manverham is a banker and along with his brother-in-law, Lord Moffat, they have amassed a fortune. Mr. Manverham keeps all of his confidential papers at Rockbridge, feeling that they will safer there that at his other city residences in London and Edinburgh. The Manverhams have three children who are in need of discipline. Thus, Miss Maitheson is hired to bring order to the nursery floor. She seems a wise decision as the children take to her.
The Moffat family comes to stay for a fortnight. They bring along their own governess, Nanny Selkirk, who rules their two children by instilling fear into their susceptible little minds. Miss Maitheson disagrees with this form of child care, believing there to be enough fear in the world with adding to it.
One night, the children play a nasty trick on the elder Manverham brother, James. He retaliates with a nasty trick of his own. Later, all the younger children gang up on James and he endures a traumatic event.
Miss Maitheson has a secret. Mister Manverham has a secret. Those two secrets collide in the aftermath of the event that so traumatizes James.
We see what we want to see…
This was not at all what I expected. It is certainly a different ‘take‘ on the traditional English governess story. Different and imaginative. The story was well executed and the descriptive passages and setting were sublime. The plot was a tad far-fetched, but despite that it kept me interested throughout.
I received this novella from Endeavor Press in consideration of a review.
Tim Heath is an actor, director and writer. He has had two other books published, a childrens book The Dragons at Marshmouldings and the Sherlock Holmes play The Adventure at Sir Arthur Sullivan’s. For six months he was part of a resident acting company at Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire. This experience was partly the inspiration and setting for The Fear at Rockbridge Hall , which was mostly written in his spare time there in one of the seldom used, reputedly haunted drawing-rooms.
I’m another one who loves the theme of English nannies so I’m loving the sound of this. Even with the far fetched plot.
Sounds interesting : )
This sounds really good!
It was an interesting variation of what I expected. I suspect I’ll remember it for that.
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