Author: Julie Klassen
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pub Date: January 2012, Bethany House Publishers
Format: eBook (Nook)
Source: Purchased from BN.com
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt--and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?
Observing both brothers as an "invisible" servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?
On her journey from wellborn lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of "serve one another in love."
Oh, I think I have found a new favorite author for Christian Historical Fiction! I went on the hunt for The Maid of Fairbourne Hall after Marie at Burton Book Review sang praises for this book in her review. I must say that I wasn't disappointed -- in fact, it was one of those times where I stayed up late to finish the book because I really wanted to see how everything worked itself out. The best part is, after just lamenting over not being able to find other authors outside of Georgette Heyer who write Regency Romances that I enjoy, I found Klassen.
Oh don't get me wrong, she isn't really another Georgette Heyer. The witty banter isn't quite so prevalent, nor the incredibly vivid detail of the life of the ton in Regency London. However, perhaps in part because this is Christian Fiction, there is much more substance to the story. To call it Christian Fiction almost seems too strong, though, because that was certainly not the focus of the book, which, as all of you probably know, suits me just fine. I don't care to be preached to and this book is not the slightest bit preachy.
I think I most enjoyed seeing the transformation of Margaret Macy from her snooty, spoiled beginning, through her journey of self-discovery that ultimately leads to a change of heart and character. Klassen brilliantly brings Margaret to life from a high-born lady to her escape as a housemaid and in doing so, we see the not-so-pretty side of Regency London -- what life was probably like more often than not for the servants of the privileged. I cringed to see the way Margaret treated her own maid and she certainly made some gaffes while disguised as a maid at Fairbourne Hall, but it is heartwarming to see her change her ways once her eyes are opened to her tendency towards snobbishness and thoughtlessness.
And naturally, you can't have a good Historical Fiction book without a bit of romance. While not sizzling hot (it's still Christian Fiction, y'all!), the unfolding story is sweet and has a happy ending. This was also a key part of Margaret's changing character as she realized what truly mattered in a husband and marriage. From haughty housemaids to conniving stepfathers, we also see a wide range of characters that bring the story to life -- truly a great cast of characters. My lone complaint is that I think Klassen had a tendency to be long-winded at times when trying to provide detail to paint a scene or explain background information. But overall, I really enjoyed The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and definitely look forward to reading the rest of Klassen's books!