The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This is Persephone Book no 29 and as I recall I bought it from a charity bookshop in St Andrews more than a year ago but I read recently on a blog (which one?) that it was a great read so I got down to reading it at last.

Frances Hodgson Burnett is of course well known to us through her books The Little Princess and The Secret Garden but this is the first of her books for adults which I’ve read and I really did enjoy it.

Emily Fox-Seton has the knack of finding good in everyone, her character is so sweet and good that she should really be a bit of a sickener but amazingly she isn’t. She’s not a fool or a prig but has great common sense and is stoical about her situation. She is a 34 year old woman of good breeding but without money and she has to earn her living by being a bit of a dogsbody for ladies who will pay her to help them, securing good cooks for them or tracking down bargains at sales, anything which will enable her to keep life and soul together.

At 34 she’s deemed to be not only on the shelf but positively dusty and she seems never to have any hopes in that direction for herself, but as this book is a bit of a fairy tale for adults, and given the title of the book it’s obvious that things are going to take that turn for her. Like all good fairy tales though, there is a dark period of danger around the middle of the book. Will it all fall apart for Emily? Well what do you think!

If you want to read this book you can download it from Project Gutenberg it’s under the name of Emily Fox-Seton there.

There are lots of Frances Hodgson Burnett books to choose from, have a look here.

6 thoughts on “The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  1. I really enjoyed this as well! I had no idea that she had written novels for adults until someone mentioned this on a discussion list. I really felt for Emily when she was threatened with the loss of her home – the proverbial last straw.

    I’ve heard there is a sequel but that it isn’t quite as good.

    • Lisa,
      I didn’t realise there was a sequel, but I think this book was originally published in two parts. The second half of it is certainly very different but necessary for the story, although I did think Emily’s decision of place to stay seemed strange when she could have gone anywhere.

  2. Katrina,
    I’m so glad you alerted us to this title! I’d like to dig up a copy somewhere. Will put it on my “WannaRead” list.

    I’m in continuous adoration of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, of course. Can’t help it, but read parts of them regularly. And I always turn to The Secret Garden in March! I want to be on the moors in Yorkshire in March, when Mary first meets them.

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

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