Top positive review
35 people found this helpful
on 19 July 2006
I first read this story many years ago in an ancient Nelsons Classics edition with a nice woodcut at the front. I have reread it so often that the old book is falling apart, so I looked for a new copy and found to my surprise that what I had thought to be a private enthusiasm was widely shared-a great pleasure.
As many have said the story is melodramatic. Burnett was a more than competent writer and a marvellous observer of people and society. She makes her heroine frankly and explicitly stupid,but keeps our sympathy for her. (Incidently, contrary to what some reviewers state Emily Fox-Seton is handsome going on beautiful, as the woodcut illustrates.)
What makes the booke for me is her observation of society and people--from a middle-aged marquis to a lower-middle-class servant to a whole rural village. These are not saccharine portraits, but sharp and witty comments on the society of late 19th century Britain. You could write a useful social history of that time from this book.
The description of the plight of poor but genteel women before employment as other than servants was available is extremely touching. The disintegration of an aging aristocratic lady as she finds herself subject to ordinary human feelings for the first time for many years is very funny--and very moving.
Definitely a keeper!