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Characters in Depth:
Amalie Braun

First Trilogy
All Manor of Yarns

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  I. Prussian Yarns

 II. A Stitch in Time

III. Tinctures & Tantrums

Second Trilogy
The Snow Queen and
The Caterpillar

IV. There is a Season
 V. Viennese Yarns
VI. Orchids

Third Trilogy
Taffeta Tales

 VII. British Yarns
VIII. Polish Yarns
  IX. Threads of Strife

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Lorraine Stanton
Vicki Wootton
Shalanna Collins
 

Amalie Gerturd Braun was born in the middle of a large middle-class family in Stettin.  Her father was the town crier, and when Amalie was 8 years old her mother died in childbirth.  Her father seemed utterly unable to carry on alone, and not inclined to remarry.  None of the older children were girls who could have run his house, so the babies were farmed out to relatives, the older children went into service, and the middle ones who were too young to work and too old to be treated like babies were put into the orphanage in Stettin.

Amalie was raised in the orphanage until she was 14.  Impressed by teachers who had been kind to her and had helped a grief-stricken and lost little girl to cope and to live again, Amalie wanted to be a teacher in order to help children who need it.

The orphanage was run by the Lutheran monastery in Stettin, and the monk who involved himself the most with the placement of children, Bruder Goff, encouraged Amalie in her dreams, and helped her to find a position as an under-maid to a governess.  She worked there for a while, learning all that she could, then moved on to a position as a governess’s maid.  Unfortunately, her liberal attitudes and beliefs did not endear her to her new employers, so she sought another position.  By the time Amalie was in her 20s she had obtained a position as an assistant to a junior governess on an estate near Stölp, to the north and east of Stettin.

This time her liberal views got her into worse trouble, and she was told to change the way she thought or her employers could not allow her to influence their children and would have to put her out.  This caused a crisis of conscience for Amalie who wrote to Bruder Goff to seek his wise and kind guidance.  She didn’t know whether it would be a worse sin to deny what she believed to be right in order to keep her job, or to risk being unemployed by holding to her beliefs.  She was as afraid of the sin of bearing false witness by denying her beliefs as she was afraid of the sin of pride in holding to them.

Bruder Goff’s first letter exhorted her to look within herself for her answers.  His second letter told her that his brother, Lord of Schonwald Manor, an estate to the south and west of Stettin, needed a junior governess, and wouldn’t object her modern, liberal views.  Amalie eagerly agreed to meet with Herr von Goff.  Her employers were as pleased to let her go as she was to leave them, though they did warn Otto von Goff that she talked the most dreadful nonsense, such as children respond best to kindness and firmness and should not be humiliated and shamed, that the poor have rights, and that God created all men in His image, equally.

Amalie arrived at Schönwald with the greatest of enthusiasm and high hopes.  She was delighted to find another orphan there, Kirsten Morgan, who had been one of the babies she had taken care of as a senior girl, one of the ones she always visited whenever she went “home” to the orphanage.  Her happiness stopped right there.  The governess she was to serve under was controlled by a hard, cruel woman, the nanny, Frau Blücher, who mistreated both Kirsten and the heiress, Luise von Goff-Puttkamer.

The most confusing part to Amalie was Frau Blücher.  Amalie couldn’t understand why there was a nanny at all when the only child was 10 years old and had a governess.  Secondly, she couldn’t understand why the nanny spent all of her time doting on the mistress of the manor instead of the child.  The one thing Amalie comprehended fully is why it was Otto and not his wife who had hired her.  She only needed to meet Hildegard once to realise that she didn’t and probably couldn’t fulfill her responsibilities as the Lady of the Manor.

Amalie came very close to quitting outright, but decided to find out first if Otto had any idea what was really going on in the nursery.  She hoped she hadn’t been wrong about him when she had liked him so much, and she doubted Bruder Goff would have been wrong about him.  It seemed more likely that a man would have no clue what went on in the traditionally female controlled area of the household.

The first chance Amalie got to test her theory was  after the governess had retired, and the replacement governess quit after a huge row with Frau Blücher.  Amalie was summoned to Otto’s library.  His droll opening, “We appear to be short a governess,” gave her the courage to let him know a little bit about what was going on, and to judge his reaction.  She felt reassured that he had no idea of Frau Blücher’s nastiness or power.  She also felt reassured that Otto would support her against Frau Blücher.

Because of Otto’s supportiveness, Amalie had the nerve to face Frau Blücher down.  This pivotal moment earned Amalie the admiration and support of Luise and Kirsten, as well as most of the staff in the manor house and even out to the stables and the village.  Because of her courage, Otto discovered just what had been going on, and took appropriate steps to force Frau Blücher into retirement.

Amalie felt that she was fulfilling her dream of helping children in need, even as the governess to an heiress, because she had a chance to care for and nurture Kirsten and watch her blossom, and because she realised Luise needed her just as much as Kirsten did.

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