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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever servants, clueless and helpless gentry, 3 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Making of a Marchioness (Persephone Book) (Paperback)
One thing that must be borne in mind about the Ayah's plotting and conniving is that a major arc of the novel is that the gentry in this tale are too dumb to live, and quite helpless. When Osborne realizes he needs to do away with Emily, he cannot figure out any practical way to do her in, so the Ayah steps into the breach and comes up with plan after plan and executes them with promptness and skill. Emily is completely oblivious of everything around her, including the motives and feelings of other people, and quite helpless in trying to figure out a way to protect herself. Fortunately, she too has a clever, active, and efficient servant, Jane Cupp, who scurries about to counter the Ayah's plans. The Marquis is just as oblivious, slow-witted, unimaginative, and downright dumb as his wife. So it is servant vs. servant, game, set, and match.

Skill, imagination, and practicality are strictly the preserve of the servants, with their masters and mistresses passive, unaware, and what the author frankly calls stupid. In the end, Osborne's wife faces a terrible dilemma, and the ayah steps forward once again with courage and dedication and her usual ready improvisation and effectiveness.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale, especially the first part before Emily's marriage. Frances Hodgson Burnett always features strong and trusting alliances between women and often has these between women who are supposed to be rivals but who become allies instead (her novel Theo has another striking example of this.) But I like The Shuttle even better.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Jan 2013 12:41:53 GMT
Savana says:
That explains a lot. I only bought the Making of a Marchioness, not the sequel, which obviously contains all the plotting and the Indian element. I thought the book was absolute drivel, and the Marquis a fat old bore about to draw his pension if they had them in those days, never mind become a first time Daddy. Think I'll wait until the TV adaptation appears!
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