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Book Review: Behind a Mask

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott (5 star review)

Behind a Mask: or, A Woman’s Power

by Louisa May Alcott

111 pages // published in 1866 // historical fiction


When demure Scottish governess Jean Muir arrives at the wealthy Coventry household, the family couldn't be more thrilled with their new young resident. But Jean proves to be no meek and mild governess, but rather a proud and passionate woman with a mysterious past. As she begins to weave her duplicitous spell, the Coventrys quickly surrender one by one to her 'innocent' charms, all quite beguiled by her grace and beauty. Soon the men are quarrelling for her attention, and the women beside themselves with jealousy. Delighted with her success, Miss Muir sets her sights on the highest prize--an association which will secure her future and put an end to her scheming; but she has only three days to claim her victory before the truth, behind her mask, will be exposed.

A world apart from the type of domestic fiction that Louisa May Alcott is generally associated with, Behind a Mask is a dark and ingenious study of deception and betrayal, in which Alcott reveals the ruthless power of a woman scorned.

My Review

5 Star Rating

This is one of Miss Alcott's sensational novellas, not to be compared to Little Women. In "Behind a Mask" we discover a web of secrets, deceit, and twists.

Jean Muir, our "heroine", is not the typical Victorian lady. She is not prim and proper, or anything remotely as nice as Jo, Meg, Beth, or even Amy. Jean is conniving, rash, and she makes men's hearts melt just by her sheer will.

Taking a position as governess in the Coventry family's home, she charms everyone with her sweet act -- or at least those who cannot see through her façade. Her agenda slowly comes to light, and will overtake the reader, and the Coventry family, by surprise. Needless to say, Jean Muir knows how to leave a trail of broken hearts behind.

Considered a thriller of sorts when originally published in 1866, Miss Alcott actually had to publish this one under her pseudonym, A.M. Barnard.

While it may have dark undertones, it can still be considered a clean read. Suitable for ages 12 and up.

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  1. This does sound like an interesting tale!

  2. Oh wow! This sounds like an exciting story! :D I shall be adding this one to my reading list for the future. ;)