Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Carrie Turansky’s The Governess of Highland Hall

Carrie Turansky’s The Governess of Highland Hall is set in the Edwardian time period and is quite appealing! I enjoyed my mental vacation to 1911 Berkshire, England. The heroine, Julia Foster, is strong yet feminine – in a perfectly balanced way. Though Julia is young, she emulates amazing character and steadfastness, which is believable because of the missionary lifestyle that she and her family unwillingly left behind. I enjoyed how the skills she’d developed in her beloved India came in handy with her charges in Highland Hall.

Sir William Ramsey, the master of Highland Hall, is a wonderful hero who is dealing with complications that are overwhelming. His fascinating personality and intelligence along with his great heart add much to this story.

This author provided her characters with relational and situational challenges that had me flipping pages and looking forward to what would happen to the characters long into the night. This might sound cliché, but I see that as perfect truth.

The main characters Julia and William along with the other characters such as: Sarah, Clark, Katherine, Andrew and Millie are exactly the type of personalities in which I love to dedicate reading time. This novel is a favorite, which I will enjoy reading again and again. These pages are well written and spiritually, romantically, and historically wholesome and intriguing. Carrie, I applaud you for this delightful and difficult to put down read!

 If you’re looking for clean, entertaining, and uplifting fiction, then let me point you in Carrie Turansky’s direction! Though this is historical fiction there are issues involved in this story that modern day people face each day.  In my opinion—Carrie Turansky is highly recommended!

Questions for Carrie:

1.   Carrie, I love how beautifully you depicted Julia’s spirituality and her struggles. What inspired you to write this character?

Early in 2012 I had a discussion with an editor at a conference, and I asked her what kind of stories she was looking for. Downton Abbey was just becoming popular, and she said she’d love to see a story set in England in the Edwardian Era with a feeling similar to Downton, and perhaps the heroine could be a governess. I liked the idea, but was intimidated by the idea of setting a story in England 100 years ago. But an author friend encouraged me and loaned me some books about that time period. I jumped into the research and fell in love with Edwardian England. The editor’s comments about making the heroine a governess reminded me of Jane Eyre’s story, so I included some elements from that novel. I wanted Julia to have a missionary background, so I remembered reading A Chance to Die, Amy Carmichael’s biography. I reread it and used some of Amy’s experiences as part of Julia’s back story. So Julia is a mixture of ideas and people, and she is one of my favorite heroines.

2.   The historical solutions to problems, whether they are handicaps or hyperactivity, are interesting. Did you know individuals who struggle with these challenges and did you in a way give them voice through the characters of this story?

I’m the mother of two boys and three girls.  They are all grown now, but when they were young we homeschooled them, and four of the five had learning differences that made schooling a challenge. I wove some of those experiences into the story. My husband is also the author of 14 books on parenting, and I’ve been blessed to learn many things from him over the years. The techniques Julia used to help Millie and Andrew come from the Bible, our family, and his books.
3.   What do you like to treat yourself to when you are writing—coffee, chocolate, or something else?

I am a tea drinker and enjoy hot tea on cold days and iced tea in the summer months. My favorite tea right now is Stash Meyer Lemon Herbal Tea. Delightful! When I want a treat I make some delicious homemade chocolates using coconut oil, almond butter, and stevia, with a dash of salt. You put it in the freezer to harden up then break it into pieces. Yum!

4.   What was the most difficult novel or novella to write that you have written? Was it an award winner?

I’d say my most challenging novel to write was A Refuge at Highland Hall, which is my latest and the third in the Edwardian Brides Series. It is set during World War One, and I loved the characters and plot, but I had some health challenges that made it difficult to write for a few months. I was really pushing hard to finish all the revisions on time.

5.   You wrote your first story at the age of twelve, did you ever re-write it for publication?

That question made me smile. No, my first story, Passport to Paris, will always stay in the drawer. But it’s a fun to remember coming up with the first story and imaging the two friends on their trip to Paris.

6.   What is the most exciting message you desire to share with your readers?
I always weave spiritual themes into my stories because I want to touch people’s hearts with God’s truth and love. In each book the characters face different challenges, but I do often come back to the healing power of forgiveness and God’s ability to take painful and difficult circumstances and turn them around for good in our lives when we trust Him. Those are wonderful truths that are meaningful to me, and I hope my readers find them exciting and encouraging. 

7.   If you could travel anywhere in the world where would that be?

I love to travel, and I’ve been blessed to travel many places for ministry and for fun: Hawaii, Kenya, Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, and all around the US. If I could go anywhere, I’d return to England and search out some more lovely settings for my novels. I enjoy visiting historical homes and gardens and learning more about how people lived in the past.

8.   What type of fiction is your favorite to read? To write? (Since you write contemporary and historical.)

I enjoy reading historical and contemporary stories. I think it’s the quality of writing that draws me back to particular authors. I didn’t think I would enjoy reading novels set in the American Colonial period, but I loved Lori Benton’s Burning Sky and Laura Frantz’s The Colonel’s Lady. I like romance and happy endings, so I didn’t think I would like WW2 novels, but I loved Cathy Gohlke’s Saving Amelie and Secret’s She Kept. I’m always looking for books set in England, and I enjoy Julie Klassen’s Regency novels. Right now I’m reading and enjoying Judy Christie’s YA novels, Wreath, A Girl, and Wreath in Summer. It’s the power of the story and quality of the writing that makes the difference for me rather than the genre or time period. I enjoy writing contemporary and historical. And right now English historical seems to be a good fit for me.

9.   How do you wish your readers to contact you?
I enjoy connecting with readers through my website, blog, and email newsletter. I’m active on Facebook and Pinterest, and I pop into GoodReads and Twitter as well.  I hope to meet you there!


  1. Hi Sue! Wow, great review and I loved the interview. I always enjoy finding about the author and what inspires them. Thank you for this. Now, I've got a new author! I can't wait to see you at WTP:) <3 :)

  2. Yeah! Monica!! Good to see you here! She is a gifted author for sure! My sister has the next books and I'm eager to get those back and read them. Pat loved the next too books in this series also! :) I plan to attend part of the WTP...What a great writer's conference!

  3. Hi Sue! You did a great job with this review. I very much enjoyed getting to know Carrie Turansky through your insightful questions and her thought provoking answers. I will definitely read her work and look forward to more of your reviews. Thanks so much!

  4. Oh Becky! Thank you for stopping in! Yes, I'd like our writers group to read this novel! She is truly a wonderful story teller!