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.