This book is about the five children of a Parson who live in a Rectory at the turn of the century. By today's standards the Rectory would be considered a grand house: there is a cook, a house parlour maid, a kitchen maid, a nursery governess and Nannie, and so they should have been very comfortable.
But family life had its ups and downs in those days just as it does today. Trouble starts when the children's mother gets tuberculosis and is packed off to Switzerland for a year. While she is away a very strange governess is engaged to teach the children. She has had no education to speak of, though she is a clever girl, and the letter which gets her engaged as a governess is a fraud.
There will be more books about the Maitlands, and somehow that governess is always re-appearing.