The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie KlassenReview by Kara Grant
Seeking Under Housemaid for Fairbourne Hall
Wake up at 5:30AM to begin duties
Assisting staff with miscellaneous duties as needed
Margaret Macy is not enjoying her new living arrangements with her stepfather, Sterling Benton. He is reading her mail, sending the footman to follow her every move, he has locked up all of the Macy’s valuables for “safekeeping”, and he is no longer giving allowances. On top of these inconveniences, he allows his nephew, Marcus, to move in to court Margaret and eventually get her to marry him hoping to earn an inheritance in doing so. Unfortunately, Margaret has eyes for another gentleman and when this is learned by
Embroidered plaque in servants’ hall:
“A good character is valuable to everyone,
but especially to servants.
For it is their bread and butter
and without it they cannot be admitted
into a creditable family,
and happy it is that the best of characters
is in everyone’s power to deserve.”
I thought of two movies while reading this wonderful book:Goldie Hawn in Overboard and Ally Sheedy in Maid to Order. Both characters come from wealthy backgrounds and with a twist in the story, one becomes a maid and one becomes a housewife. Both movies are comical, but there is a transformation they go through before the story ends that makes the character more endearing. This is also the case with Margaret once she becomes an under housemaid. Her results are not so comical because the circumstances are daunting and deceitful, but her character does become more endearing as she learns to appreciate what maids and butlers endure while serving others. Her situation is temporary, but that does not make it easier to take and she observes injustices around her with her daily duties.
My favorite character was Helen Upchurch, the mistress of Fairbourne Hall and the sister to Nathaniel Upchurch who was rejected by Margaret earlier in the story. Helen is probably the smartest person in the book who has been heartbroken and is resigned to being unmarried at 30 (long past marrying age during this time). Three scenes that deeply touched me in the story:
Margaret’s maid, Joan, offers the only job position available to Margaret when she herself is desperate for work.
Margaret makes sacrifices to help another maid so she won’t get in trouble.
Nathaniel and Helen both offer Margaret protection when they realize her circumstances.
That’s another part of the story that was so endearing. Margaret overhears conversations and learns of injustices that she vows to rectify when her servitude is finished. She has guilt about her deceit more than once, she becomes loyal to her peers as well as the Upchurch family, she learns the job well and puts her whole heart into it, she goes out of her way to bring life back into Helen’s demeanor, and despite misunderstandings along the way she continuously humbles herself and rarely takes credit even when she is responsible for helping someone out.
Here is an excerpt:Nathaniel found his place in the book and cleared his throat. He hesitated, left his thumb marking the spot and looked up at them, then down once more. “Many of you have been with us for years and remember me as the arrogant youth I no doubt was. Perhaps you think it hypocritical of me to stand before you now, as though I think myself worthy to be your spiritual leader. I do not. I am convinced not of my own worthiness, but of God’s. I need to hear the words of this book—its truth, forgiveness, hope—as much as anybody.” He looked up with an apologetic smile. “I know I’m no great orator. But I ask you to bear with me as I fumble through this new duty.”
I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys misunderstandings, romance, humor, forgiveness, honorable and not so honorable characters, second chances, fencing, one poet pirate known for thievery, scandals, historical references and quotes used at the beginning of each chapter that illustrate what servitude was like in London in 1815. I was humbled more than once while reading this book and I’m grateful for characters like Margaret Macy who find themselves and their strengths when they least expect it. Get your copy of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall today and see why Klassen’s latest book is a must have for your bookshelf!Please visit Klassen’s website, http://www.julieklassen.com/
I want to thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.