I´m terribly behind on reviews, and they are probably going to be shorter and shorter if I do write them. I´m only typing this one now to delay getting started on my uni workload. Also, my brain doesn´t seem to produce coherent thoughts over 30°C.
Enough with the complaining 😉 The Making of a Marchioness was my first Persephone book, and I enjoyed it a lot. When I started reading, I had no idea that this edition actually combines two parts, and so was very surprised how after a Cinderella-esque first part, the story turned very melodramatic.
Emily Fox-Seton is a spinster in her thirties (just writing this is weird!), and although she is from a good family, she is quite poor. To support herself she acts as a companion to rich ladies and helps them with whatever needs to be done. Because Emily is not very clever but very good, she does not realize that she is basically being exploited. At a party of Lady Maria´s, which she is only attending because she is to help with preparations and whatnot, Emily meets the Marquis, Lord Walderhurst. Every woman at the party is after becoming his Marchioness, except for selfless Emily who is busy wishing this good fortune on someone else. So when the Marquis proposes to her, it´s really like a fairy tale ending, except that this is not the end. Although Emily really isn´t my kind of heroine, I also couldn´t resist the charm of this story and wishing Emily well. My favorite part were the detailed descriptions of the clothes, her room and tea. I really can´t help it, but I adore descriptions of the English taking tea, it´s so cosy and almost sacred. It also reminds me of home and relaxed evenings in the garden or watching Midsomer Murders in the living room with my parents (can you tell I´m excited to go home in August? 😉 ).
Now the second part, originally called The Methods of Lady Walderhurst, describes Emily´s married life as a Marchioness. Contrary to the fairy tale style used before, this one is much darker and complicated. Emily makes a good wife in that she is so devoted and selfless that her husband can live his life almost unchanged although he is now married. I suppose from his position, it was an excellent choice. But I can´t imagine a more boring marriage. Still, Emily does now not have to worry about money and her future anymore, and surely she deserves this security. However, Lord Walderhurst´s nearest relative is not happy about the marriage and fears that Emily will produce an heir and he will not inherent the title and fortune as a result. The situation becomes more and more likely to end in catastrophe. This second part is very melodramatic, but at the same time very suspenseful, and although this melodrama made me shudder at times, I also couldn´t put the book down, I wanted to know how it was all going to end. More interesting is Frances Burnett Hodgson´s commentary on marriage, the two central ones in this novel are the one of Emily and Lord Walderhurst, and the one of the current heir (I seem to have forgotten his name) and his wife Hester.
I don´t want to give it all away but if you´re interested in women´s position and possibilities at that time, you´re going to like this book for more than the charming first part and the sensationalist story of the second part.
Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I´ll add a link!