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The Manor House Governess

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Member Reviews

Entering the world of 'Greenwood Manor' is like stepping into a gothic novel where reality intertwines with fantasy, but unlike its classic counterparts, this modern tale fails to deliver a protagonist worthy of empathy or admiration.Brontë Ellis, our genderfluid lead, is a character lost in his own self-centered universe. While his vivid imagination paints him as the heroic protagonist of a bygone era, his actions in the real world often border on insufferable. From his disdain for others' circumstances to his relentless pursuit of his own desires, Bron comes across as shallow and unkind.The narrative unfolds with promises of mystery and intrigue, mirroring the structure of beloved classics like 'Jane Eyre.' Yet, as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that Bron's self-absorption overshadows any potential for genuine connection or growth. His fixation on Darcy, the enigmatic prodigal son of Greenwood Manor, serves as a stark reminder of his inability to see beyond his own desires.While the writing style echoes the elegance of Brontë's literary predecessors, the lack of distinct character voices detracts from the overall experience. Each interaction feels like a repetition of the last, leaving little room for nuance or depth.Despite its literary merits, 'Greenwood Manor' ultimately falls short due to its flawed protagonist. While some may find solace in its nostalgic atmosphere, others may struggle to overlook Bron's shortcomings. For those willing to delve into the world of gothic romance, proceed with caution, lest you find yourself trapped in Bron's self-indulgent fantasies with no hope of escape.

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Fun, LGBTQ+ mash up of lots of the great classics. Bronte decides to fill in for her sister as governess for a family, as her sister is too sick at the moment and she doesn't want her to lose the position. Bronte turns out to be a great fit for this family, but just because they are as quirky as he is and don't mind his lack of warmth.

There were a few inconsistencies, such as how Bronte was just staying for a prescribed amount of time, then planned to ghost them, but not sure how that wouldn't cost the sister the position? But I really liked all of the characters and that none of them relied on traditional methods of showing affection, acceptance, or presentation.

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A decent debut. I loved the representation, the creep factor. It just needed a little more something.

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Oh man, what a disappointment.

This novel just could not do what it set out to do.. it was essentially full of conversations with very basic acceptance of gender and sexuality. like “homophobia is bad” / “oh yes it’s so bad” etc. there is no revelation. there is no true advancement for gender nonconforming people in this novel. the main character, bron, made me so frustrated and angry. the romance was also strange, forced, and kind of icky.

Also the choice to use modern slang, but make it gothic and then again to have such drastically different coloquial styles in one book was just a mess.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

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Do you ever read a book that isn't for you, but you can immediately picture the person who would enjoy it? That's how I felt about this one. Will recommend it to intense fans of classic gothic brit-lit.

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I really liked The Manor House Governess! I think I was expecting something more actually Gothic, as opposed to what was very clearly a Northanger Abbey "Opps not actually Gothic" twist, and to some degree the "big family secret" didn't really feel dire enough for all that drama. But the characters were memorable, the prose lovely, and the romance sweet. All in all a wonderful way to spend a cold winter evening.

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“𝑰 𝒔𝒖𝒑𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝑰’𝒗𝒆 𝒈𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒏 𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝑰 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒎𝒚 𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒔, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒅𝒐𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒔𝒐 𝒊𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒊𝒏𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒐𝒏 𝑰’𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒊𝒕. 𝑰𝒕’𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒂𝒍𝒘𝒂𝒚𝒔 𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒚, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒘𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒐𝒏 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒐𝒘𝒏 𝒋𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒏𝒆𝒚𝒔.”

I discovered this book randomly on NetGalley’s page and was immediately intrigued by the homage to British literature with a gender fluid protagonist set in the 21st century.

A mix of a modern coming-of-age story, with a regency feel and a gothic touch, C.A. Castle tells the story of Bron, an immediately likeable protagonist who takes a job as a live-in tutor at Greenwood Manor. His pupil, Ada, is also immediately likeable; I loved seeing their relationship develop as they come to lean on one another, like siblings, as they search for connection. Ada’s brother, Darcy, is both incredibly frustrating (he’s very hot and cold towards Bron), but also charming. At one point I couldn’t stand him, and another I was wanting he and Bron to be together. The inspiration from Jane Eyre is clear, as Brown works to uncover the mystery surrounding a fire at the manor and to peel back the layers of this unconventional family. I appreciated the way Bron works to embrace all parts of himself - he uses he/him pronouns and also embodies his feminine self through his dress. The illustrations that appear throughout the book are charming, and felt like a nod to the engravings of the Victorian era, like in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. felt the story could’ve been tightened up in a few places, alongside wishing the ending has more of a finality to it, but the slow-burn payoff was mostly worth it.

The Manor House Governess is a story of finding yourself, belonging, family, relationships, the ghosts of the past, and doing better. If you love a queer contemporary twist on British classics, this would be for you. Thank you to Alcove Press & NetGalley for the ARC!

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The Manor House Governess by C. A. Castle
#NETGALLEY published 11/7/23
#alcovepress
#lbgtqiap+ #romance


The story starts with a queer non-binary boy (pronouns are he/him) who had grown up in a bordering school for orphans in present day in a small town outside London. After he has aged out of the program and tried to apply to uni, Cambridge in particular, he has been turned down. Since his favorite book of all time is Jane Eyre he decides to apply to be a governess. He gets the job. The dad and the child he is teaching are very open to the way he lives his life. And then like the other boys in school, the prodigal brother seems to have an issue. Or does he?

We are able to get into all of our MCs character's head's through an omniscient author. Some interesting "mysteries" are revealed. This is not a thriller or a mystery, per say. But there are several things unveiled through the book. I think it is very well done. The expectations that certain people seem to live with makes it more difficult for these people to live their lives genuinely/honestly.

#themanorhousegoverness #cacastle #generalfiction
#bookstagram #bookrecommendation #booknerdsbookreview #bookreview

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DNF - I wasn't able to immerse myself in the story with the writing style that was used. I'm sure other readers will appreciate this but, it just wasn't for me.

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I can absolutely understand the appeal of this title. The moody, introspective main character, the deftly written mystery, a brooding love interest, it is a well done book. I enjoy witty & literary winks in my novels, but as well done as this was, it still left me a little cold. It may be that I just have never, ever, enjoyed the Brontës, and Castle's pastiche is too well aimed. Or that, in my middle age, I have forgotten how to thrill to a coming of age, search for one's place in the world.
I will absolutely recommend this to those people who are in love with the gothic romances of the past, but I don't see myself picking it up again.

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Alright so I had no idea what to expect with this book, but it ended up being cute! This is a LGBTQIA+ contemporary romance, meaning there is very little spice (about 1 scene that's not super graphic). This is truly about the story and how it unravels for the main character Bron.

Bron is a gay man living in the 21st century and he's struggling to understand his identity. He knows he's not trans, but that he's just more feminine than others. He loves dressing in skirts and frilly shawls that accentuate his androgynous features. He's been trying to get into some of the better universities in England, but at 22 he's still been denied for the second time.

At this, Bron decides to become a governess (nanny) for a little girl in a small English town. He loves the old manor that they live in and is quickly taken to Mr. Edwards and his little girl. He thinks life couldn't get any more perfect as he settles in, but then he meets Mr. Edwards son, Theo, who goes by Darcy. Bron absolutely adores Jane Austen and feels this is a perfect sign, but unfortunately Darcy comes across as brutish and rude.

Caught between being confused and falling for Darcy, Bron must decide if he can trust him. As they continue to get to know one another they both start to fall further into their attraction. But as soon as things seem set, secrets come undone that have the effect of ruining them once and for all.

I really enjoyed this book and especially loved the characters. They were so fun and their adventures together were adorable. The only thing I was so confused about was Bron. He constantly wanted to sit in the shadows or be ignored, but then he would wear outfits that made him stick out. He would also get anxious about people observing him out in public and acted like he knew why, but also didn't know why. It was kind of weird to me and I found that very annoying if I'm being honest.

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Brontë Ellis lives in two worlds. In the first, he’s the abandoned child raised in an all-boys boarding school where he has no friends, no particular academic skills, and even fewer social skills. But, in his head, in his imagination, he’s the much maligned heroine of a gothic novel — like in his favorite novel, Jane Eyre — just waiting for the Byronian hero of his dreams to whisk him away to a mysterious manor where he can fulfill his fantasies. (Note: Bron is genderfluid and uses terms like governess and heroine to describe himself, while also using he/him pronouns. As such, I shall refer to Bron as he/him in this review.)

When Bron sees the advert for a position at Greenwood Manor to be the tutor and caretaker of a young girl, Bron can’t help but think it’s perfect. Why, it’s just like Jane, heading off to Thornfield Hall! However, Jane didn’t have wifi, an accepting Mr. Edwards who encourages and spoils his daughter at every turn, and a laptop where he can pirate movies to watch at night before bed. Jane also didn’t have a Mr. Darcy, the prodigal son who comes home to visit, a man as arrogant as his namesake and utterly disinterested in on Brontë Ellis. Or is he?

The more time Bron spends with Darcy, the more Bron feels as though there might be something there between them, a spark of kindred spirits. But Darcy is keeping secrets from him; in fact, it seems like everyone is! When the library catches on fire, Bron sees this for the chance it is, to find out the deep, dark family secret and bring it to light!

First and foremost in this book, I loathed Bron. The character feels unpleasant, shallow, unkind, selfish, and very much has main character energy (I know, I know, he is the main character of the book, but Bron takes it way too far). Frankly, I found him insufferable. Bron is always living in his own world, a world in which he is the poor and impoverished, long-suffering victim who can’t get into the school he wants because of his station and his class (not his grades or lack of tuition), who looks down on tourists who — like him — wander cobbled streets and take pictures of locations from their favorite films, and who loves to feel the breeze in his hair as he romps about on his very high horse. On his first meeting of Mr. Edwards and his daughter, Bron can’t help but notice the two don’t closely resemble each other the way he thinks parents and children ought, and so pointedly reflects that the Mr. Edwards’ daughter can’t possibly be related to him, she must be adopted.

He had a friend at his old school, St. Mary’s, and thought to put Harry into the same position as Jane Eyre’s best friend … despite the fact that Harry wasn’t interested in that role, any more than he was interested in being in a romantic relationship with Bron. When Harry’s parents pulled him out of the school, after pointing out the mildew and the dead rat on the stairs, among other sub par living conditions, Bron saw this as Harry betraying him and choosing to run away because Bron had kissed him as a confession of his feelings. Because yes, everything has to be about Bron.

When Bron discovers that the family he works for has family secrets that they’re daring to keep from him, he’s offended! When he discovers that Darcy, the gallant figure he wants to have fall in love with him, had a life prior — and lovers prior — he’s miffed, and then spends a great deal of time imagining Darcy and Giovanni together, their romance, their conversations, how they might touch one another, kiss one another, and how all that makes Bron feel. And it gets worse. Mr. Edward dies, and his loss takes a heavy toll on the family. Ada, the girl Bron tutors and babysits, has lost her father, the light of her life; her brother Darcy, the only other constant in her life, the only family she has left, goes from being indulgent and present to being an angry and sad ghost vanishing in the mornings and not returning until evening, as Darcy must now deal with the business of his father’s death, the business affairs, the house, the paperwork, and his own grief for having lost his father, his stability. And Bron’s upset that he’s being ignored. He then uses that as impetus to snoop in Darcy’s room to find a missing photo album — someone else’s photo album — and read Mr. Edward’s private final letter to his son and the will. Because in the end, it’s all about Bron.

Yes, this is simplifying it, but it’s the essence of the situation. Bron feels like he has no sympathy for other people and no empathy for anyone but himself, as is made even more clear when, upon learning Darcy has been disinherited by his father — the man who just died — his first, giddy thought is: Now he’s just like me!

To his credit, when Bron hears that Giovanni — during his relationship with Darcy — outed him to their friend group, and then to Darcy’s father, Bron takes a moment to be offended on Darcy’s behalf, calling out that sort of behavior for the vileness it is. It feels like one of the rare times where Bron thinks about someone else’s feelings, and stood out because of that.

That’s not to say the book isn’t without some merit. The writing is its strong suit. The author has written this book in a style reminiscent of Jane Eyre or Northanger Abby and keeps it consistent through the whole book. On the whole, the book is easy to read with a languid pace, however, every single character feels like they have the same voice. They speak with the same cadence, the same grand deliveries, and during some conversations, I found it hard to decipher who was talking without tags, as they all sounded exactly the same to me.

While, for me, this book is a pass, that’s purely due to my absolute dislike as Bron as a person. I was caught enough by the book that I will be keeping an eye out for more from this author, but this book in particular for me is a pass, as I found Bron an unpleasant character to have to spend time with and the plot gives him no growth or character development. It just reinforces all of his bad traits and none of his very few good ones.

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(copied from my audiobook review): Loved this book, would definitely be interested in reading more from this author. Perfectly captured the vibes of classics but without being boring. My only complaint is I wish we saw more of the romance and that the "twist" was either better done or less spread out because the biggest part was pretty easy to guess.

I felt the inner dialogue of gender spectrum enjoyable and somewhat fluid.

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After a couple of rejections from Cambridge, Bron finds himself becoming the live-in tutor at a manor house, which suits his love of 19th century literature. However, the family he finds himself working for is not what he expected with his employer Mr. Edwards and his daughter Ada welcoming him and Ada's brother Darcy keeping him at arms length. While Bron sees himself as the governess in his stories, Ada is largely self-sufficient and Darcy rather aloof and perplexing. Bron finds himself attracted to Darcy although he can't quite grasp the dynamic between Darcy, his friends, or his family. Bron tries to put the pieces together to figure out what Darcy is hiding and how it relates to Ada and what it could all mean for a relationship between Bron and Darcy. Overall, this novel is part character study, part Gothic romance, and part family drama. Much of the dialogue is centered around Bron's view of genderfluidity and his experience growing up, although part of it is also Darcy's own journey. While the setting was really well defined and set up, sometimes the characters themselves fell a little flat and it was not clear what their motivations were.

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A wonderfully sweet, sharp, clever and unique spin on Modern Gothic, and easily one of my favorite reads of 2023.

Bron is a lonely, genderfluid orphan obsessed with Gothic classics heroines who suddenly finds himself with an opportunity to live out his own version of Jane Eyre. Or so he hopes.

In reality it’s of course a lot more complicated than that, and all the gothic tropes are turned slyly upside down and sideways in this terrifically clever and unusual story.

I’d call this a light gothic, but the atmosphere and slow build are wonderfully done regardless, and the story plays on traditional genre themes while spinning them into something entirely new.

I absolutely adored the characters. You’ll never root harder for a protagonist than you will for Bron, and also for the found family he wants so badly to build. I love a book that hits you in the feels without being manipulative or saccharine, and this book does that brilliantly. Absolutely loved this story.

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Bron grew up in a boarding house due to not having family stayed on after he was done to work there but when he got a job being a governess for a little girl name Abba he is excited about his new prospect when he needs the family he gets along with everyone except the older son Darcy and then something horrible happens and the romance becomes a mystery I really thought I would love this book or at least like it a lot I mean Braun is obsessed with the old Regency Classics but I didn’t found the integration of those books and the sentiments giant with the storyline and I thought is if the book wanted to be a Gothic town but that was just something that caused it not to be. I cannot think of the last time I DNF the book but almost did it with this one I feel bad saying this because I know writing books is hard but I really didn’t like this book but due to the subject matter I would get the authors books another chance. I want thank the publisher and NetGalley for my free arc copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review

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Despite the disparagement toward Austen in favor of the Brontës within its pages, kind of a modern(ish) retooling of Northanger Abbey. Very poetic, if largely predictable.

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Castle's novel is ambitious in its scope of trying to use classical literature, Gothic and otherwise, to examine genderfluidity and modern culture. In the end, I feel it wasn't fully successful -- but I applaud their effort.

Bron, the main character, is a queer, genderfluid individual who uses he/his pronouns throughout. His character, like much of the book, flip-flops between being intriguing and overwrought. When Bron ruminates on his struggles as a genderfluid person or discusses his passion for Jane Eyre or gender fluidity, he's engaging. Otherwise, he is a mish-mash of both overly shy and overly antagonistic, wanting to shrink away unless it is to bite back. Perhaps this is intentional, and perhaps it is indicative of Bron's other experiences and struggles, but I found it jarring.

Likewise, I felt that the sumptuous descriptions of places and objects (especially clothing) and little nods to modern tech here and there that were woven in well didn't mesh with the dialogue. The dialogue is purposefully appealing to an older style, but why would anyone talk like that except for Bron himself? Even the idea of hiring a governess, using that term and not the more modern equivalents, feels weird. Again, Bron could himself make those parallels but to expect everyone in the world of the novel to do the same feels like too much.

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A queer coming of age debut story featuring a gender fluid MC, perfect for fans of Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen.

This was a heartfelt modern reimagining of classic English gothic romances that sees orphan Bron, a young, lonely youth taking up a position as a tutor in a remote English manor house where they meet a love interest who projects tons of Fitzwilliam Darcy vibes.

Great on audio narrated by Cloud Quinn, I really enjoyed this story and can’t wait to read what this author writes next!! Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review!

⚠️CW: transphobia/queerphobia

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