In a particular scene in ECHOES OF LOVE, royal governess Chesna considers how she should have been a mother of her own children at this stage in her life, and not just a substitute. It’s a particular moment of weakness for her – not something she constantly regrets. And yet, that was probably a common thought for a governess of the nineteenth century.
What these women didn’t know was that they were really trailblazers. The role of governess was pretty much the first career available to women where they could earn their own money while not upsetting the delicate patriarchy. But not every woman could aspire to the position. She had to be fairly well educated in the basics, an expert in societal norms, and come from a good middle-class family.
Unlike in the romance novel world, though, most of these ladies never met a man who made their hearts thump under their bodices, and they probably died regretting they didn’t do more with their lives. In actuality, they were vital to world history because they raised the men and women who would eventually impact the future, whether for good or bad.
For Chesna, I wanted to create a woman who understood the role she actually played in shaping the minds of the next generation, someone who realized her power was subtle but there, nonetheless. She’s clever and strong and expects nothing less from her charge. For example, when she’s ordered to marry a member of Napoleon’s army, a man she knows all too well, her quiet fortitude is apparent and she changes the situation into a teachable moment for Zarek, the child she’s raised since infancy:
“I’d rather die than marry this pig!”
“If that is your wish, mademoiselle.” The general shrugged and turned to Major Roucher. “Take her back to the dungeon.”
“No!” Zarek rushed forward and threw himself at Chesna’s feet. “You mustn’t die. You promised me you’d never leave me. Don’t leave me! Please!”
“Zarek, be silent,” she chastised.
He quieted immediately, but remained on his knees, teary eyes pleading his case.
“Well, mademoiselle?” the general barked. “What is it to be, death or marriage?”
Chesna stole a glance at Pietor, who stood expressionless, then cast her eyes on Zarek draped across her feet. Kneeling, she helped him rise and leaned close to his ear. “Never show such weakness to outsiders, Zarek.”
I think she’s become one of my favorite characters because of her resiliency and her adaptability. I hope you’ll like her too. Please be sure to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know!