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Behind a Mask, or a Woman's Power

Louisa May Alcott

Book Overview: 

Fans of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women will remember that her heroine Jo wrote racy novels before turning her hand to more "serious" literature. Alcott, writing under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard, often did the same, and Behind a Mask is one of her sensation novels. It focuses on Jean Muir, who enters the home of the wealthy Coventry family as governess to their sixteen-year-old daughter. But is the beguiling Miss Muir all that she seems to be?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . governess, who sat with her hand over her face as if in pain.

Gathering himself up, Coventry slowly obeyed, but involuntarily quickened his pace as he heard Miss Muir say, "Don't call him; he can do nothing"; for the emphasis on the word "he" was very significant.

"What is it, Bella?" he asked, looking rather wider awake than usual.

"You startled Miss Muir and made her turn her ankle. Now help her to the house, for she is in great pain; and don't lie there anymore to frighten people like a snake in the grass," said his sister petulantly.

"I beg your pardon. Will you allow me?" And Coventry offered his arm.

Miss Muir looked up with the expression which annoyed him and answered coldly, "Thank you, Miss Bella will do as well."

"Permit me to doubt that." And with a gesture too decided to be resisted, Coventry drew her arm through his and led her . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I’ve only read ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott. This is certainly different. It’s like Louisa May Alcott’s evil twin sister wrote this!

These stories are delicious.

But with "Behind the Mask," Alcott veered from her traditional path of 'wholesome' writing. The book has four novellas, most of which were published anonymously at the time as what Alcott called her "Blood-and-Thunder Tales." Modern 'literary' readers probably consider t

When you think Louisa May Alcott, you think “Little Women”. The author is so synonymous with her much-loved classic that one forgets she wrote other types of stories too. It might come as a surprise to some that before she worked on “Little Women”, she wrote plenty of gothic thrillers. Published in

If I wouldn't have known that Louisa May Alcott had written this, I would never had known. It's very different from Little Woman but it's really shows her writing genus. The extreme talent to write in different genres and being good in both. Yet again I listened to B.J Harrison narrating and I was w

How cool was it to find out that Louisa May Alcott wrote gothic thrillers under another name? I was excited. The first and longest novellette of the collection is Behind A Mask or A Woman's Power (She's very fond of this or business in her titles) and that is fairly stunning. The twist happens immed

A surprisingly interesting anthology, though I have to admit the first one was my favorite and the others were a little more meh. A good book to read if you're behind on your reading challenge like I am :)

Individual ratings:
Behind a Mask, Or, a Woman's Power ★★★★☆
Pauline's Passion and Punishment ★★★

This is the first book I've read in a while that I just couldn't put down. As much as I love Little Women, I think I like Alcott's potboilers almost as much. This one is really interesting because even though I knew from the first chapter that Miss Muir was not a good person, I completely enjoyed th

Alcott wrote Little Women and others in that genre for her Bread-and-Butter. But she reveled in her "Blood-and-Thunder" tales of a more Gothic nature. She particularly excelled at creating female characters with a Dark Side. (Perhaps what lies behind Ms. Alcott's mask is her own Bad Girl Self).....B

"Behind a Mask" - (4 stars)

"Pauline's Passion and Punishment" - Pauline's revenge against a false lover (4 stars)

"The Mysterious Key" - a young widow and her daughter hire a mysterious young man; the mystery aspect of the story is great, but the characters lack charm which is sad for Alcott characte

This was a side of Louisa May Alcott that made me chuckle, it was like reading all those fantastic stories that Jo wrote in her attic in Little Women. Very melodramatic! There are also quite a few of these where you can definitely see her abolitionist roots, but also how very prejudiced she and her

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