The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper: A Novel by Kathleen Y’Barbo (WaterBrook Press, June 2, 2009), 352 pages
Eugenia Cooper, a Manhattan society girl in 1880, is addicted to dime novels about Mae Winslow, Woman of the West. She dreams of having her own Wild West adventure. When the opportunity to temporarily take the place of her new maid’s sister as a governess in Denver presents itself, she takes it. What she finds, however, is not quite as she expected. Denver’s practically a normal city, the 10-year-old she’s charged to turn into a lady is most at home in overalls (and doesn’t think she needs a governess), the housekeeper doesn’t like her, the child’s father is largely absent. Oh, and she doesn’t know how to do household chores, having always had assistance with such things — but now she is the help.
Each chapter opens with a short snippet from a Mae Winslow western novel. Like Mae, our protagonist, who goes by Gennie, isn’t quite ready to become a wife yet as the book opens.
When I opened the book and began reading the Mae Winslow snippet, I was concerned. I didn’t want to read a western. But this book isn’t really a western, although it is partially set in the old west. The characters are believable and real, quirky and endearing. Gennie is sassy and strong. Our male lead is wounded. Charlotte, the charge, is precocious.
A charming tale, a sweet historical romance. Very fun.
Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than 30 novels, novellas and young adult books, with more than a half-million in print. She is a publicist with Books & Such literary agency. She’s @KathleenYBarbo on Twitter. A Christian Writer’s World interviewed the author.
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