Amy Carmichael, missionary to India with two of the children in her care

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India with two of the children in her care

The Inspiration for the Heroine in the Governess of Highland Hall
By Carrie Turansky

As a young believer I often wished I had a mentor who would take me under her wing to guide me and help me grow in my faith. But as the years passed, I never seemed to connect with an older woman who could instruct and encourage me in that way. One day I was bringing that need to the Lord again, bemoaning the lack of mentors in my life, when I suddenly realized I had been blessed and mentored by many women through reading the books they had written. My moaning turned to thanksgiving as I reflected on the lessons I had learned from my unlikely mentors.

I especially love reading missionary biographies, and one missionary I admire is Amy Carmichael. When I read her biography, A Chance to Die, written by Elisabeth Elliot, I was inspired and touched by her faith and commitment to God and her whole-hearted service to the children of India, many of whom she rescued from being temple prostitutes.

Just a little background on Amy Carmichael. She was born in Ireland in 1867 to loving Christian parents, and though she did not have good health, she was determined to become a missionary. She served in Japan first for a short time, and then in 1895 she followed God’s call and traveled to India, where she spent the rest of her life. She went first as an evangelist, but soon started a home for abandoned and rescued children. She also wrote several books and taught many the truth of the Gospel through her example of love and faithfulness.

The Governess of Highland Hall - Carrie TuranskyAs I began preparing to write The Governess of Highland Hall I wanted to weave faith elements into the plot and the lives of my characters to make the story as meaningful as possible. Part of my research involved reading about Christians who lived during the late Victorian and Edwardian time period in Great Britain. As I scanned my bookshelves, I remembered Amy Carmichael and pulled down her biography again.

As I reread her story I knew her life would provide a wonderful background for my heroine. I began jotting down notes and thinking how I might weave some of Amy’s faith and life lessons into my heroine and novel.

As The Governess of Highland Hall opens, my heroine, Julia Foster, has recently returned to England after spending twelve years in India where she and her parents were missionaries and ran a home for abandoned and rescued girls like Amy Carmichael. Julia’s father is ill, and needs medical care, so the family must return to England. One of the issues Julia faces in the story is whether she should stay in England to help provide for her parents and be near them, or return to India and carry on their missionary work alone. As she develops a deep love for the hero and his children, this becomes and even more difficult question for her to face.

How can we understand God’s call? Is the calling to foreign missions a higher calling than staying in your own country and taking on the role of wife and mother? How do we determine the best path to follow in life? These are all questions Julia must face, and I hope as she seeks her answers readers will be challenged to consider their own lives and how they can follow God’s call and have a greater impact on others.

What about you? Have you ever gone on a mission trip or felt called by God to a particular ministry? How did that impact your life? If you haven’t gone yet, where would you like to go, and what would you like to do?

6 replies
  1. Rhonda
    Rhonda says:

    Loved this post! And, it made me want to read your book all the more! Like you, I loved reading missionary stories growing up. Although I was blessed with many older women who I could look up to as solid Christian mentors, I also learned a lot from the stories I read. One story that such struck a strong chord with me (so much so, that I actually had to put it down for awhile – feeling overwhelmed by the legacy) was the story of Mary Slessor. Amazing woman of God. Again, thanks for sharing!! Blessings to you!!

  2. Carrie Turansky
    Carrie Turansky says:

    Hi Rhonda, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I loved Mary Slessor’s story too. I think we read it aloud while we were homeschooling our five kids. That’s wonderful to hear you had some special women in your life who have been mentors and examples for you. It makes me consider if I am filling that role as mentor to young women. I need to think and pray about that some more. Blessings to you! Carrie

  3. Janella
    Janella says:

    I was searching amazon for new book releases on amazon and I was immediately drawn to the book cover. This book is now on my to-read pile.

    Thanks for sharing the interesting influence into your next heroine.

  4. Carrie Turansky
    Carrie Turansky says:

    Hi Janella, thanks for stopping by my website! I am so happy to hear you found The Governess of Highland Hall and put it on your list! I love the cover too. The manor house in the background it Tyntesfield in Somerset, England. Isn’t it beautiful? I plan to write a blog about it tomorrow, so I hope you will stop by again. My publisher is giving away an advanced reader copy of the book this week. Here is the link. I hope you win a free copy! Enter here:
    Blessings and Happy Reading!

  5. Rene Hollingworth
    Rene Hollingworth says:

    I have just come across this website. As my daughter and I finish up our study on Amy Carmichael. Looking for a time line on Amy is what brought me here. Reading the above information on the book The Governess of Highland Hall makes me want to read the book! My husband and I moved five hours from home twenty years ago with a call to local church ministry and after he was promised this end, and being past over multiple times. Giving the pain to God has been a challenge.
    Every young woman needs to hear this message. Being called is a journey of faith. It means we can’t see ahead.
    Caring for ailing parents is a challenge as well, again we walk by faith, not by sight. Then we meet God on the way not in the way, and He chooses to use us for His glory. Wow!
    So looking forward to this read, hoping my girls will read it as well, for their encouragement in this day and age. To keep their identity.

    • Carrie Turansky
      Carrie Turansky says:

      Hi Rene, I’m so glad you found my blog post about Amy Carmichael! I think you and your girls would enjoy this story. My husband often speaks at homeschool conferences, and I enjoy going along to help man our resource table. I bring my books, and I have been very pleased to meet many teen readers. It’s wonderful to know my novels can encourage both teens and adults. The Governess of Highland Hall is the first book in the series. Book 2 is The Daughter of Highland Hall, and Book 3 is A Refuge at Highland Hall. I hope you enjoy reading all three! Blessings, Carrie

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