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I read and re-read The Secret Garden as a child, without any clue that Hodgson Burnett had written anything else, particularly not novels for adults. Finding this novel, republished by Persephone was a revelation and a joy. It is not a demanding book, but it is engrossing. It charts the life of Emily Fox-Seton, a girl born of a good family, but left penniless by circumstances. It shows her making her way in society, earning a crust and treading the tight rope of social acceptability. It is a kind of fairy tale in that Emily finds her prince, none too handsome, but a good husband with a title, who gives her a life she would otherwise have only dreamed of, and rescues her from the poor house. It also makes explicit what happens to those women less fortunate than Emily. It is a book that alongside the romance and melodrama of the sub plot, which is very silly, has some serious points to make about Edwardian society. It is delightful. I am so happy to have discovered it. It is like a cross between Edith Wharton and Georgette Heyer, and lovely because of it.
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on 7 March 2002
in the Making of a Marchioness, we are introduced to a lovable and well - portrayed heroine of unusual status: unmarried in her thirties, dogsbody and well-born lady in reduced circumstances. The romance is what dreams are made of, and Part Two, with its demonic elements and melodramatic close-to-death moments, is fast moving and a good contrast to "and they lived happily ever after". HOWEVER, much though the realistic failings of the characters to be perfect is the making of it, we are still reading a dream as very little is explained, very little is motivated and there are huge anomolies to a modern reader between Frances HB's willingness to discuss a birth in detail but not to mention more than a kiss on the cheek for a newly married couple.
Well worth a read to extend the dream-like wonders of "the secret garden" and "a little princess", but you may come away knowing more about linen and clothes, and less about WHY they fell in love or ran away ..
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on 1 January 2015
This is a portrait of how the ordinary becomes extraordinary, of how you don't have to be beautiful, intelligent or academic to be special to somebody. It is also an excellent depiction of day to day Victorian society; again not the big bangs but the quotidian that makes up most people's lives.
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on 28 July 2010
Beautifully readable froth! Only takes an hour or so to read. But a truly terrible piece of book production. Facsimile or no, it wouldn't be hard to tidy up and reset in the original style.
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VINE VOICEon 8 August 2008
Hodgson Burnett has a good character in Emily Fox-Seton. What happens to her is inevitable once we know the kind of woman she is and HB strives hard and long to explain to us what that is. Melodrama and the gothic are both well-represented but the book is a good example of its type - the romantic novel.

Good but not outstanding - that's why it's a 4-star not a 5-star book.

There are better but it is worth a read. I'm sure I've come across the scene where the heroine walks over the moors to pick up some shopping before - just can't remember where....
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on 29 November 2010
I picked up this book at random as something to take on a long journey, read it and then liked it so much that I've sent copies to quite a few people, who have done the same. The two parts of the story offer an interesting contrast - an atypical rags-to-riches love story vs. dramatic murder plot - and the only thing that stops me from giving this book 5 stars is that the romance between the main characters doesn't seem to have much time to develop before they're suddenly getting married. Other than that, great.
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on 18 December 2012
One of the lesser known books by this fantastic author, a must read for her fans and a great tie-in to the recent TV adaptation.
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on 24 August 2010
This book is a window into a world gone by. It is a quick and easy read - the kind of book to curl up in an armchair and enjoy - but that doesn't mean it is trivial or lightweight. The picture of English society, and the attitudes and standards of the time is truly fascinating, but the characters are also engaging or intriguing and the plot draws you in. It's a Cinderella story that continues where other stories stop at happily ever after.
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on 6 February 2013
It is an interesting book in that it shows a good portrayal of life in the early 1900's in England. There is an underlying dark plot from the Asian sub-continent with a number of twists and turns. It builds to a climax with a "soft" landing.
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on 13 March 2013
This novel provides a now old fashioned role model for young women as the heroine is a mixture of Austen's Fanny Price who always does the right thing as well as being trapped in a Gothic novel situation with a touch of cinderella thrown in
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