I found this book completely baffling.The central protagonist acts in ways that are only explicable to me as an expression of mental illness, and yet the reviews I found seemed to suggest it was her employers who were mad.I found it all to be quite in the reverse - at the very least Stella is crippled with social anxiety, misses social cues, and cannot ask for many things directly.(A towel, girl!Ask for a towel!)Her "solutions" to her problems are incredibly foolish, and the constant litany of injuries she suffers as a result - severe sunburn, hangovers, mysterious rashes, a tumble down a flight of stairs - are ludicrous for one person to suffer in the string of so few days.Much is left unexplained - the bedtime pain Stella experiences; Toby and Pamela's relationship; how any why anyone excuses Stella (because while much can be done in a spirit of compassion, why don't these people think she's disturbed?) and I understood the point of so little of many of the novel's other characters - the groundskeeper; the post office owner (who was my favorite character of the lot!)
The 'reading group' guide at the back of the book "helpfully" pointed out that the story borrows much of its plot from Jane Eyre.If that's true, it would explain much - especially in the degree to which I disliked the story.I never got along very well with the Brontés and their simpering, fragile, swooning heroines.Give me the sharp wit and witticisms of an Elizabeth Bennett anyday.