The golden gates have opened, letting a stranger in. Introducing Anne Serre, and her semi-deranged erotic fairy tale, The Governesses.

“A sensualist, surrealist romp.”—Kirkus

“Brutal and effervescent, The Governesses is imbued with an uncanny intensity: an unforgettable introduction to Anne Serre’s work.”—Alexandra Kleeman

In the splendid gated garden of a large country house shut off from the world, three young women are preparing for a ball in their own honor.

Nominally responsible for the education of a group of little boys, the governesses spend most of their time running around in a state of feverish desire.

Lying in wait for a passing stranger, they throw themselves on him like frenzied maenads. Drifting about afterward in a kind of sated, melancholy calm, the governesses are spied upon by their neighbor, an old man who watches their goings-on through a telescope.

“A cruel and exhilarating book. Anne Serre’s style is perfectly controlled. Colorful, by turns elegant and violent, it provokes that enchantment borne out of an unbridled imagination.” —Marie Claire


Translated by Mark Hutchinson. Publisher’s Weekly Best Fiction Book

“A hypnotic tale of three governesses and the sensuous education they provide. Ines, Laura, and Elenore are not exactly Jane Eyre types. Prone to Dionysian frenzies, should any passerby fall ‘into the trap of their vast, lunar privacy,’ they pounce upon, seduce, and devour him (‘in a ladylike manner’) to sate their ungovernable desires. This could be a setup for a neo-pagan farce, but as Serre delves into the three women’s existence, the novel taps into deeper, quieter waters: the Keatsian twinning of joy and melancholy. Serre’s wistful ode to pleasure is as enchanting as its three nymph-like protagonists.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)