The Governess Club: Louisa by Ellie MacDonald (released in e-format now, available in print on November 11) is the fourth and last novella in MacDonald’s Governess Club series. The series revolves around four independent women (“Four stories of independence. Four stories of love.”) who support each other through their club and, eventually, find love.
The heroine Louisa might have a tiny bit of a grudge towards men, and of course, given her past, and even current situation, we can see why she feels bitter. You might expect a historical heroine to be a shy violet, but Louisa is hardly that; more like a vibrant rose, completely covered in thorns. But she’s not looking at the world through rose-colored lenses. Because Louisa is on her own at the beginning of the novella, she is very aware of, and angered by, the patriarchal society that oppresses her and limits her options:
At what point did ‘what’s best for the woman’ become entire acquiescence to man’s desires? Why is it that no one can see the disparity? And those who do are scoffed at, ridiculed and shunned for being ‘unnatural’ females, merely for wanting the acknowledgement that they are in possession of a working mind and are capable of using it just as effectively as a man.
It feels as if Louisa’s guiding assumptions and decisions scream out, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!” And luckily, she meets John, and he proves in the opening chapter that he is a gentle sweetheart of a man, ready to be the patient protector that Louisa has wanted all along. Once they start working together at the Inn, we quickly see an affection develop between the two, despite Louisa’s gruffness. MacDonald does a wonderful back-and-forth narration style to show Louisa’s and John’s magnetic attraction, and of course, John is just such a sweetheart, that Louisa can’t help but fall for him. Fast and hard.