Cover Image: Godmersham Park

Godmersham Park

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Member Reviews

An enjoyable period drama about Anne Sharp, a governess who goes to live with Jane Austen’s brother’s family after she falls on hard times. Although the story concentrates on Anne, and the unfairnesses of being lower class, Jane becomes an important character in the story and has a real effect on Anne’s life.
This isn’t a quick read but meanders along as a period drama would on TV with loveable characters and a good plot.
Thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for a review.
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Really enjoyed this one. Anne Sharp is such a great character and the book is beautifully written. Drew me in & kept me enthralled from page 1.. Great addition to any bookshelf.
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Anne Sharp has always lived a life of comfort but when her mother dies and she is left with a small bequest she must take up work.  So at 31 she finds herself employed as a governess to Fanny Austen in a country house.  Anne finds it difficult to reconcile her new circumstances and to balance between family and servants but she determines to do the best she can.  On meeting a relative of her employers, Anne finds a friendship but is also made aware of her true circumstances.
This book is based on the slenderest of true stories, Anne Sharp was employed as a governess by Jane Austen's brother and the two did have a correspondence, Anne Sharp also ran a successful school in later life.  Here Hornby has woven a beautiful novel around this, she explores society and how an individuals place was determined by wealth and circumstance.  The 'romance' is less successful and, whilst the character of Anne is flawed, it is great that the book is about her rather than the headliner Jane Austen!
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As a huge Jane Austen fan I couldn’t wait to read this book and it did not disappoint. Although partly fiction it gave me a real insight into Janes life and her close friendship with Anne Sharp, I especially enjoyed the Authors afterword. I now need to read Miss  Austen!
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I really enjoyed this novel set around Jane Austen and her family, friends and servants. 
A great immersive story and a fantastic companion to Austen’s works.
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This is a very gentle historical novel, set in the early 1800s, and follows the life of Anne Sharp (a real-life friend of Jane Austen). Part of the book (Anne's early life) is highly fictionalised, but the Godmersham Park sections are based on genuine suriviving Austen family correspondence, which adds to the interest!

The major part of the story focuses on Anne's life after she is forced by a change in circumstances to seek work as a governess.  Anne becomes the governess to Jane Austen's niece Fanny.  Although I've read other novels featuring governesses, it never really struck me before how very awkward that position was - neither one thing nor another - not strictly a servant, but not part of the family either. The description of Anne's treatment by the servants - and indeed some of the family - really brought that home.  

Anne is an intelligent woman, but has to hide her light under a bushel to survive and keep her position - intelligence and wit were not considered attractive or desirable qualities in a woman... and definitely not in a governess!  Anne's beauty is another factor against her, particularly when Henry Austen strikes up a friendship with her...

Happily for Anne she struck up a true and lasting friendship with Jane Austen, and the book gives a great insight into that relationship, as well as going on to explain what happened to Anne after she left Godmersham Park.

The pace of the novel is - at times - quite slow, but then so was the pace of life at that time compared to now!

All in all an interesting read that made me think about the role and place of women in English society at that time - I will be reading more around that subject.  I also plan to read Gill Hornby's previous novel, "Miss Austen".

My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC.  All opinions my own.
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I completely loved this book! I felt transported to another era, and couldn’t help but immerse myself in it at every spare moment; I even missed it the day after I finished, when I remembered it was over! I loved an ‘Austen’ style story told from the governess’ point of view, and dare I say it, I enjoyed the slightly faster pace than from Austen herself.  There were some lovely humorous observations (e.g. the old lady who loves an ailment and a bad journey story) but also some poignant moments highlighting the subtleties of women’s bullying in the workplace, not to mention the lack of opportunities for women back then. All in all though, I was hooked from page one and delighted to read the afterword explaining just how much of the story was carefully researched and based on true events. Thanks indeed to Random House and Netgalley for the advance copy.
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A fictional version of Anne Sharp’s time as a governess to the niece of Jane Austen and the lifelong friendship they kindled. Suddenly falling on hard times, Anne has to make her own way in the world and falls back on the only things she knows and feels strongly about – education and female rights. 
I have to admit I’ve not read Miss Austen also by the author, neither have I read any Jane Austen so I wasn’t as invested in this book as others will undoubtedly and quite rightly be.  
Having said that it was enjoyable enough and a nice quick heart-warming read.
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A beautiful book designed to transport you away to the 1800s. A charming and easy read focusing on Anne and the things she has to overcome in her life.
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Sharp, astute and witty, Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby is ideal for those who love Jane Austen's novels.
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I was a big big fan of Miss Austen so was really looking forward to reading Godmersham Park and it didn't disappoint.  Based loosely on actual events it follows the life off Anne Sharp who was disowned by her father.  She finds herself as governess to Fanny Austen who is the niece of Jane.

Written in similar vain to Miss Austen this is a really wonderful tale.  Not quite as good as Miss Austen but still very much worth a read for all those who love Jane.

With thanks to netgalley and the publishers for an arc of this book.
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Based on a true story about Jane Austen's fami.y.
Anne finds herself in need of a living after her mother dies. She becomes governess to Fanny' the daughter of Edward Austen.  Her aunt is Jane who will be one of Britain's greatest novelists.
After Jane visits Godmersham Park with her mother and sister, she and Anne strike up a friendship. Jane's brother, Henry,is a frequent visitor and the story tracks how Anne feels about him.
Jane Austen fans will like this.
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Thank you to @penguinukbooks for letting me read Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby! This is a quiet, gentle historical novel that still manages to be incisive and damning of early 19th century gender roles and the limited breadth of a woman's life. It's about a governess, Anne Sharp, who works for the rich Austen family in Kent. Jane Austen makes an appearance in this, as do lots of her family – she's a lively and witty person determined to make the best of things – and Anne too is of the clever sort who is destined never to marry. I never thought I'd complain of a book lacking in plot, but this was meandering in a way I didn't particularly relish. There wasn't really much of a narrative, and things felt very unfinished. Certainly indicative of real life, and definitely a lot more realistic than other historical novels with sprinklings of romance – but turns out I quite like the anachronisms.
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Loved it. Once again I was totally transported away to the 1800’s. It was great to see a host of familiar characters again, see where life has taken them and see life from a new characters perspective. Anne was a very interesting character, her life had so many unanswered questions and so many uncertainties. She has a unique perspective having been on the ‘rich’ side and now having to work for a living and having no male heir to keep her in a comfortable fashion. 
Her ideas on self sufficiency and female empowerment were ahead of her times, it was fascinating to see how she saw that women could be so much more than a pretty thing to hang on a man’s arm, and with opposition not just from men but also from other women. Getting a fuller, more in-depth sight in to Jane Austen’s life was great, Henry and Jane so similar that to Anne they were almost genderless in how she felt about them. 
I was so happy to read about the success she had in later life, she was determined to be self sufficient and not need a man to secure her future and she achieved it. These books are brilliantly researched and, in my mind could have been written by Austen herself.
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An easy, informative and enjoyable read. Based on facts of the life of Anne Sharp this engaging story gives an insight into a period in Jane Austen’s life. The authors writing style make this far from staid and formal. It’s an absorbing read and one I found fascinating. 

Thank you Netgalley
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A must-read for fans of Jane Austen! 

Godmersham Park tells the story of Anne Sharp, a young woman who after the death of her mother, is abandoned by her father and must become a governess in order to earn a living. She is hired by the Austen family to tutor their young daughter Fanny. Anne is very aware that she doesn’t fit in with either the servants in the house or the family who has hired her and must find a way to balance herself between the “upstairs” and “downstairs” members of the household. Anne has just settled herself when the dashing Henry Austen and his sister Jane turn up, both of them drawn to the young governess. She realises she’s beginning to fall in love, a precarious position for a governess to find herself in.

A beautifully written, slow-paced novel perfectly suited to the life of its 19th century characters, Godmersham Park is meticulously researched and full of tender and truly heartwarming moments. I found myself whisked away to the beautiful mansion and its grounds. Hornby vividly recreates life in a regency country manor which adds immensely to the entertaining aspect of the novel. 

I loved Anne and it was so interesting to read about her relationship with the Austen family and particularly Jane. Anne’s wit, brains and charm shines throughout the story and every one of the characters are fleshed out and unique in their own way. Hornby has a real talent for bringing well-known figures life Jane to life on the page and imagining their lives in a charming way. 

Hornby’s writing and the language she uses is very much influenced by Austen herself and it felt like catching up with an old friend. Romance, friendship, perseverance in the face of challenging times, difficult family dynamics and tragedy are all dealt with beautifully by the author. It’s wonderful to get lost in Austen’s world in this novel. 

Four ⭐️ for a truly charming story. Godmersham Park is out now. Thank you to NetGalley and publishers for the arc.
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On 21 January 1804, Anne Sharpe arrives at Godmersham Park in Kent to take up the position of governess to Fanny, the daughter of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward. At 31 years old, Anne has no previous professional experience, but has been forced to take on the role after the death of her mother, and the curious disappearance of her father left her with little other choice and nowhere else to go. 

The character of Anne Sharpe is based on a real Governess of that name at Godmersham Park, and as historical facts reveal, she was to become a close friend and correspondent of Jane Austen when the two met during one of Jane’s visits there. Nothing is known of Anne’s life prior to her arrival, but, using the facts that are definitely known about her, Gill Hornby embroiders upon them to produce an extremely plausible backstory for her, which forms a big part of this delightful, entertaining and very clever book.

It really is a wonderful novel, and a really great read. Working within the parameters of known fact and historical record, Gill Hornby vividly creates and depicts life in a regency country house of the well to do, with dinners, picnics, plays, and family holidays to the seaside for sea bathing.

The author beautifully presents a picture of the social pecking order, and highlights the very “between” nature of the governess role, being neither family nor servant – very tricky and uncomfortable social terrain to navigate. Even the Austens are seen to be “the same family and yet two distinct classes”.

The novel is populated with brilliantly drawn, entirely believable characters., from the somewhat pompous, and over-bearing Edward, to the rather flirtatious Henry, to the formidable house-keeper. The prose is exceptionally good too, and is Jane Austen-esque enough in its style, observation, irony and acerbity, to delight any Janeite. Gill Hornby also deploys the famous Austen literary technique of the heroine sometimes lacking knowledge and self-awareness and being prone to make mistakes or incorrect assumptions.

As well as being entertaining, the novel offers a fascinating insight into the lives of middle-class regency women, whose fate depends upon the men in their lives, be they their fathers, brothers or husbands: “behind every well-bred governess there was an absence of men”, so that they are forced into what can only be described as precarious employment, liable to summary dismissal from posts that are by their nature limited to and defined by the ages of the children they are teaching, and so without any long-term security.

Marriage is seen as the only security for women, and the sooner the better, because after the age of 30 chances are limited, so Mrs Edward Austen’s sister, Harriot, desperately seeks the security that a wedding to a local man of substance will bring her; women who are unmarried, “on the shelf” and whose father has died, find that their fate lies at the whim and kindness of their brothers and their wives – as we see with Jane, Cassandra and their mother; and for women to have any success in the marriage market they must not be a blue-stocking, therefore Anne must develop Fanny’s mind only to the point at which “she can demonstrate a sound understanding of any subject that might arise when she is out in society”, and no further.

Gill Hornby interestingly puts quite a feminist slant on things. Anne is seen as a “passionate woman” with “liberal ideas” and a “disdain for convention”. In their conversations, both Jane and Anne chafe at male control of what women are allowed to do, how they might live and who will protect them - what Jane calls “the female conundrum” - and she highlights the fact that men are “proud…flawed by their upbringings…too conscious of that superiority the world seems to ascribe to them.”

Godmersham Park is a multi-layered delight, offering so much to the reader on so many levels, and especially so if you are a Jane Austen devotee. Highly recommended.
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Reading this book was like falling head first into a bucket full of Jane Austen-esque joy!!! 

🌳As a mood reader I had a giant Jane Austen itch that needed scratching and this beauty hit the spot and then some!

🌳I jumped in and was enjoying the plot immensely, it's a gentle paced story but I hadn't done much research on it before I began, so I was half way through before I found out that majority of the whole story was based on true facts!.
 🌳We follow our Heroine Anne Sharpe during her time as governess at Godmersham Park to Jane Austens niece, Fanny Austen.  Thanks to the real life detailed diaries Fanny kept there is a wealth of details on Miss Anne Sharpe. From then on while reading I kept popping on Google to look up details and facts.... through Fanny she meets Jane Austen and thus begins a beautiful friendship. 

🌳Gill Hornby has such beautiful prose, we have a modern day Miss Austen in our midst! This book reads like an Austen story yet the magic is its based on the truth. How totally delectable.... Make sure you read the authors note as it gives us details on Anne's happy ending!

🌳Seriously any fellow Janites and Jane Austen lovers out there need to read this exquisite tale
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Another great book for the Jane Austen fans. Even though the main character here is Anne Sharp, the story evolves around the Austen family, Henry and Jane in particular, and the style of writing has a real Austen-feel. And exactly this is what makes this a lovely read. There is not much happening in terms of events, however, the emotions, feelings and personalities are so beautifully depicted that this makes you forget about the slow pace of the story and the melancholy atmosphere.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House UK / Cornerstone for the Advance Review Copy.
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This book needs to be a must read for all Jane Austen fans, it’s based on real people and used diaries written at the time to develop the story of Jane’s niece and her governess. Both women going against the norms of the day. So many tantalising titbits of characters that you can see form those you know from Jane’s many books. 
Highly recommend and thank you for letting me read this book.
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