Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Making of a Marchioness

 

The Making of a Marchioness is another light and delightful Persephone book. Emily Fox-Seton is a 34-year-old impoverished well-bred woman who makes her living assisting the wealthy in their daily lives. Need a fashion consultant? Looking for that extra special accessory to make you a success at the next ball? Require an assistant to organise your next garden fete? Then Emily is the person to call. She does things with an element of style and she has such a pleasant personality that everyone loves her. One day she's invited to a country estate to help Lady Maria host a party for several upper-class people. She attracts the eye of an eligible Marquis and what follows is a delightful little story in the tradition of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Well that's the first part. The second part of the book deals more with Emily's unromantic Victorian marriage to the Marquis and a couple of greedy relatives who will stop at nothing to make their unborn child the heir to the Marquis' title and fortune.

Some reviewers have criticized the racist elements in the story with regards to the Indian ayah but it didn't really bother me. This book is 101 years old after all and one should read it in that context. It's a wonderful glimpse into another era. Emily has also annoyed some readers for being too naive but I actually adored her 'Pollyana' attitude. We can actually learn a few things from Emily. She can't quite see the evil in anybody and is such a trusting soul that she's immediately endearing.

Frances Hodgson Burnett is more famous for her children's books such as The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy. It's only recently that her adult novels are being rediscovered with two of them published by Persephone books. This book is so different from The Shuttle which had a much more unique and complicated plot. Though The Making of a Marchioness is predictable, it's still a joy to read because of it's Cinderella-like story. 

17 comments:

  1. I very much look forward to your Persephone reviews. Thanks for this one too!

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  2. This sounds like a very good book-I have yet to read my first Persephone book-

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  3. I have enjoyed reading your book picks!! This one looks wonderful!!! Thanks!

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  4. ...another book added to my Persephone wish list! Thanks for the review.

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  5. I have a non-Persephone volume of this which features the first part one, which was a charming read. I far prefer the complexities and addictive storyline of The Shuttle. I loved FHB's writing as a child and was delighted to discover that Persephone published two of her adult titles.

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  6. I first heard of this book whilst reading Nancy Mitford's "Love in a Cold Climate" - one of the little sisters was reading it and (trying to) model her life after its heroine.

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  7. I love Frances Hodgson Burnett, and I'm glad Persephone is giving her adult books more exposure. None of them (that I've read so far) is as good as The Little Princess and The Secret Garden, but I always enjoy a Burnett novel.

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  8. I would really like to read some of Burnett's fiction that she wrote for adults. I love The Secret Garden when I was younger, and I've been really intrigued by The Shuttle since I first heard of it a few months ago! Yet another Persephone to add to my wish list, I suppose!

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  9. Sounds like a womderful one - you can always rely on Persephone I think. I agree with your comment about reading books in historical context.

    Thanks for a lovely review

    Hannah

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  10. Great review! I loved Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and actually have had this book recommended to me because of that, but your review has convinced me to add it to my TBR. I love this kind of story.

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  11. I've read and enjoyed The Shuttle but I never did read her children's books. I somehow missed a whole swathe of classics when I was young unfortunately. I have this same Persephone Classics edition and am really looking forward to reading it.

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  12. I loved this book but found the second half much less appealing than the first. Emily is adorable, though. Lovely review.

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  13. Lovely review! I adored this book - I am a huge FHB fan in general - and must revisit it for a comfort read soon. The second half does dramatically change in tone but Emily's character doesn't change and everything still works out for the best. It's always a pleasure to read such stories!

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  14. Super review! I very much enjoyed the first part of the book, but couldn't get through the second half. I should probably give it another go some time soon.

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  15. One to add to my Persephone wishlist :)

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  16. I've felt the same way about some older books I read recently in regards to the predictability - it actually adds to their charm. And this most definitely does sound charming :)

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  17. thanks for the great review- i have this in my pile and was actually just thinking about reading it next. you've convinced me.

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