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The Youngest Miss Ward Hardcover – 4 Jun 1998

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First Edition edition (4 Jun. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575066075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575066076
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 3 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,946,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joan Aiken is one of the best loved authors of the twentieth century, and has written over one hundred books for young readers and adults.

NOW OUT: E BOOK editions of six of Joan Aiken's early THRILLERS from Orion's The Murder Room - Look out for THE SILENCE OF HERONDALE or TROUBLE WITH PRODUCT X and FOUR other titles in their distinctive green covers - "Don't miss - guaranteed un-putdownable" Observer

"THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE" TURNS 50 with a new Classic Hardback Edition, a Vintage Classics paperback. and a brand new AUDIO READ BY Joan's daughter Lizza Aiken. Hailed as "One Genuine Small Masterpiece" by Time magazine when it first came out, the book is still appearing in new translations all over the world.

Read More at "The Wonderful World of Joan Aiken" at and

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About the Author

Joan Aiken, English-born daughter of American poet Conrad Aiken, began her writing career in the 1950s. Working for Argosy magazine as a copy editor but also as the anonymous author of articles and stories to fill up their pages, she was adept at inventing a wealth of characters and fantastic situations, and went on to produce hundreds of stories for Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Vanity Fair and many other magazines. Some of those early stories became novels, such as The Silence of Herondale, first published fifty years ago in 1964. Although her first agent famously told her to stick to short stories, saying she would never be able to sustain a full-length novel, Joan Aiken went on to win the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for The Whispering Mountain, and the Edgar Alan Poe award for her adult novel Night Fall. Her best known children's novel, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, was acclaimed by Time magazine as 'a genuine small masterpiece'. In 1999 she was awarded an MBE for her services to children's literature, and although best known as a children's writer, Joan Aiken wrote many adult novels, both modern and historical, with her trademark wit and verve. Many have a similar gothic flavour to her children's writing, and were much admired by readers and critics alike. As she said 'The only difference I can see is that children's books have happier endings than those for adults.' You have been warned . . .

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First Sentence
TO MR HENRY WARD, a gentleman of very moderate means residing at Bythorn Lodge in the county of Huntingdon, it was a matter of some mortification that he had only seven thousand pounds to give his daughter Maria when she was so fortunate as to capture the affections of a baronet, Sir Thomas Bertram, possessor of a handsome estate not far off in the neighbouring county of Northamptonshire. Read the first page
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. H. V. Aver on 7 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book deals with the fate of the youngest of the sisters who star in the Jane Austen classic "Mansfield Park". It in fact only touchs briefly on the characters from that novel, and concentrates on the adventures of Harriet Ward as a completely separate story.
Heroines in Aiken novels tend to be unfairly treated as a matter of course, but here it is taken to ridiculous levels- as orphaned Harriet goes her blameless way, insult after insult is heaped upon her- but then she ends up filthy rich, a famous writer, and hooked up with a nice guy, so yay for the meek, for they will, as is the way of Gothic romances, inherit the earth. We have another version of the evil narrow bony witchy woman here (a common character in Aiken fiction), in the form of Lady Ursula Ward, and another flawed male romantic hero, although here he (unusually) doesn't get the girl.
Nasty little touch of perspective at the end, which reminds you of the tragic aspects of the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Skeadugenga TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Harriet Ward, the younger sister of Lady Bertram and Mrs Norris, is the unconsidered target of malice by her family and acquaintances and is shipped off to Portsmouth to get her out of the way.

Her travails continue until she finds a friend and refuge and a purpose in life. The story is sometimes explicitly dark where Austen would have hinted and its a long and occasionally cruel journey for any reader who has invested in seeing Harriet happy and settled.

A good story, but you have been warned, its not all light, bright and sparkling.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 0 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Doesn't quite hit the mark of Aiken's previous triumphs 21 Jun. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I started out thinking I was in for yet another jewel along the lines of "Jane Fairfax" and "Mansfield Revisited." Aiken certainly starts off in that vein, but halfway thru, the plot turns ridiculous. Hatty became so 'Dickens-like' in her cheerful suffering that I wanted to gag, and the antagonists were also crosses between those found in Bronte and Dickens and not Austen-like at all. Aiken seemed to abandon wit and good humor for pathos and melo-drama. I hope she will not continue on this vein in her future Austen ventures. Aiken is VERY gifted and readable, so it is easy to forgive her for "The Youngest Miss Ward."
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Interesting and enjoyable up to a point 20 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I found this latest book of Joan Aiken's to be a very enjoyable one, with many references to characters and events in Mansfield Park, and an excellent portrayal of the early nineteenth century. For the entire first half or more I was quite caught up in the heroine's life and that of the whole cast of unusual characters, many of which seem to be right out of an Austin novel. It was with some chagrin when I realized, toward the end, that Hattie (the youngest Miss Ward of the title), had slipped into the "Goody Goody" mode, and was becoming somewhat insipid. I mean, really, she goes around solving everyone's problems, and taking all kinds of abuse with never a frown, but is always cheerful and helpful to a fault. The other characters have also fallen into rather neat groups of villians and good guys. However, this would not really have bother me, had the ending not been as it was. I don't wish to give anything away, so I won't comment on the obvious flaws and lack of continuity in many of the storylines and characters. However, some may not be as troubled by the ending or the character of the heroine , and, if interested in this period of history, will certainly enjoy reading The Youngest Miss Ward.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A readable if somewhat melodramatic and mediocre historical novel 21 July 2005
By Elizabeth A. Root - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This purports to chronicle the hard-times of Harriet Ward, the fourth Ward sister; intimidated by Mrs. Norris, the narrator of Mansfield Park left her out. The woes of Fanny Price pale in comparison.

I would ignore the attempted connection to Jane Austen, which I view simply as a marketing ploy. The book has nothing like her wit and has little to do with Mansfield Park, except for background mentions of the doings of the older Ward sisters.

This is a historical novel, not a Regency romance, indeed there is very little romance. It belongs to the school of historical woe, finding the past harsh and cruel rather than glamorous. For my taste, it it carried rather to the point of melodrama, more like Dickens perhaps than Austen. It is possible that all of these things could have happened to one young girl in the space of about 8 years. Indeed, there are a number of real people whose seemingly undeserved and unrelenting bad luck make one question the existence of divine justice, but it doesn't necessarily make for an effective novel. Aiken does bring in some interesting complexity as the characters ponder the wisdom and ultimate consequences of unrelentingly idealistic behavior.

Oddly enough, although this book apparently starts in the final months of the American Revolution, none of the characters, not even those emigrating to Pennsylvania and Maryland, seem to notice this event. They aren't going to English colonies, they are going to the newly formed United States of America!

Not a bad novel, but not something to inspire me to read more Jane Aiken either.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Respectable read with a sense of Austen's period. 5 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Those who have read and meditated on the themes and events of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen may find this off-shoot by Joan Aiken to be rather intriguing. While the ending may seem a bit forced, the characterizations and the obvious depth of knowledge of the historical period make this enjoyable reading.
The most interesting contrast in the book was that of Lady Ursula, well situated in the class structure but not able to cope with the consequences of her choices, and Harriet Ward, the quintessential poor relation who is better equipped to cope with life's vagaries. The novel provides more food for thought than one might otherwise anticipate.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Read this as a work by Joan Aiken and you will like it.....Expect Jane Austen and you will be disappointed. . 2 Jan. 2006
By readingfiend - Published on
Format: Paperback
I believe people would not be so harsh in the reviews of this book if it stood on its own merits and did not beg to be compared with Jane Austen. Joan Aiken is more known for her gothic Romances than a writer in the style of Jane Austin. This book definately has some of the Gothic motifs with sickly abnormal-hidden away children, love relationships frustrated and in the end unfulfilled, fires etc. Jane loved a happy ending of sorts with the heroine happily attached to the man of her desire. Joan doesn't give us this. Instead she quickly ties things up in the end by pairing the heroine up with someone else. It just did not tie up as neatly as Jane would have done it.

When you pick up a Jane Austen novel you expect to be dazzled with turns of phrases and wit that stuns you. You expect to reread passages and marvel at how that is just the perfect way to express something. Joan does not capture this essence of a Jane Austen style novel. She interjects some beautiful poetic couplets and stanzas. She also creates a plausible character and add an interesting layer to the whole Mansfield Park story. I mean I felt like "It could have happened that way" after reading the book.

There is one part of the book that seemed altogether implausible to me though. Joan has the character Fannie Price ( who in both the Novel Mansfield Park and this one, is always imposing upon the mercy of her relatives for financial or other assistance) send a letter refusing to accept any more financial assistance from Hattie due to her embarrassing marriage to a butler. She gives as the reason that her other two sisters have told her she must for Fanny's sake and the family's good name. I believe in reality it would be more realistic for her to have continued to accept the assistance when it was sent.

I believe this book would not suffer such bad reviews if the readers' appetites were not prejudiced to expect another MANSFIELD PARK or PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
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