Review: The Making of a Marchioness

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.

Other thoughts:

The Captive Reader

The Literary Stew

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I´ll add a link!

22 thoughts on “Review: The Making of a Marchioness

  1. Bina! I am definitively getting this one next! I wonder how funky the Canadian cover will be… if it differs from yours, I will tag you.

    Will BUY it! Love the descriptive notions of tea and all the little intricacies involved. Ah… I knew you were a historical romance reader ;P

    1. Hehe, covers can be weird! 😉 I was very happy that sicne this was my library´s only Persephone, they at least had the right edition 🙂

      I love that after a long day, Emily has to return to her small bed sitting room, but at least she gets a cup of tea from her landlady. I do that for my mom when I´m home, and she has the same look of relieve that I imagine Emily must have.
      Excellent Women by Barbara Pym features lots of tea times, more so than this one, and it´s a great book, too 🙂

      Haha, well there wasn´t really that much romance in this book. Poor Emily!

  2. Your description makes this sound wonderful. I haven’t read any Persephone books yet but I’m looking forward to trying them. What made you choose this one?

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Marieke!

      Now this is embarrassing, but it was the only Persephone my library had. I was excited to try a Persephone book, and like most had enjoyed Hodgon´s children´s books 🙂

      Hope you´ll give this one a try, I enjoyed it a lot.

  3. I haven’t heard of this one before, it sounds charming! I have yet to read any Persephone books, so maybe I’ll make this my first. 🙂

  4. Interesting review, Bina! I love the cover of the book! I didn’t know that Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote books for adult readers. I have seen ‘Persephone books’ mentioned quite a few times in the blogosphere and have been wondering why they are called so, and what is the connection between them and the Greek goddess Persephone 🙂

    1. Sorry, I posted my comment before completing it. It was interesting to know that ‘The making of a Marchioness’ is a combination of a Cinderella story and a melodramatic one. It looks quite fascinating! I will see whether they have it in my library.

        1. Thanks for the link. It was really interesting to find how the Greek goddess Persephone’s books came to be associated with this book series.

  5. This sounds lovely. And it’s a Persephone. As if I need any other motivation for reading this 🙂

    And I agree, it is hard to type up coherent reviews in this weather.

    1. I´m so glad it´s cooled down a bit now!

      I can see why everyone loves Persephone books, if they are all like this. Just wish my library would acquire more.

  6. I so want to read this, and I can see that there might be some parallels in terms of the way that she comments on women’s status in marriage after reading The Shuttle.

  7. I received this as a gift from Persephone Secret Santa this winter (given to me by the Boston Bibliophile), but I still haven’t read it! Shame on me. I love Perspehone books, they’re so refreshing. And, The Secret Garden, which she also wrote, was one of my childhood favorites.

    1. That´s a lovely gift, hope you´ll enjoy reading it! I can´t wait to read more Persephone books now 🙂

      I loved The Secret Garden, too. And I´m glad that her adult books seem to be very interesting as well.

    1. That´s true, there´s so much choice! 🙂 I think this book is a great introduction, but there are lots of reviews on persephone books, perhaps they´ll help you decide which one to start with.

  8. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while. I love Frances Hodgon Burnett’s children books (Secret Garden, Little Princess etc), and would love to read one of her adult novels – none of which I’ve read.

    Thanks for the review – it’s on my list, and just serves as reminder that I should find a copy soon.

    1. I loved her children´s books, too! 🙂

      I´m sure her adult books will be very interesting for you, it´s great to see how familiar some themes are but at the same time how different the adult books (at least this one) can be.

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