When 15 year old Penelope Lumley stepped off the carriage at Ashton Place to interview for a governess post, she had no idea what awaited her. After quickly being hired by flighty Lady Ashton, Penelope suddenly found herself in charge of 3 feral children that Lord Ashton had discovered on his property the only week before. All of Penelope’s hopes of imparting her knowledge of languages, math, and geography were dashed so she could teach the children the most basic skills. They had no language, no manners, and couldn’t even dress themselves properly. Meanwhile, Lady Ashton is thinking only of planning her first big party as mistress of the house and Lord Ashton spends all his days at the gentleman’s club.
Written in a charming style that makes Miss Lumley appear both loving and determined, author Maryrose Wood has managed to make this first book in the series akin to children’s books of old, like Mary Poppins or Alice in Wonderland. The story is nothing if not unique, as well as engaging and well-paced. I was enraptured and read it in less than a day.
This is a little gem of a book, and I have already begun Book 2 (The Hidden Gallery.) How wonderful to read a novel that doesn’t talk down to its reader, doesn’t resort to the current trends of zombies and vampires, and even makes an effort to introduce its readers to new words (“irony” and “hyperbole” are cleverly explained in context.) Penelope Lumley is smart, plucky and likeable, yet rarely discouraged despite her circumstances. Since leaving the classroom 4 years ago, this is the first series I have encountered that made me wish I had students again with which to share it.
10 out of 10 stars