What do you do when you run away from home with only a few coins to your name and are forced to take a servant's position in a wealthy household - where two of your would-be suitors are living? That's the position that Margaret Macy finds herself in after fleeing her stepfather's brutish nephew, who plans to force her into marriage so that he can gain control of her massive trust fund, which she will soon inherit. With absolutely no work experience and a kind heart, albeit a selfish one, Margaret must learn to survive in the real world. Even better - can she remain invisible to those who know her true identity, but somehow win the affections of the man she truly loves?
From the very first page of this book, author Julie Klassen draws the reader out in two ways: by making him/her sympathize with the hard work done by household servants, and by drawing his/her ire towards Margaret Macy's self-centered attitude. That ire soon changes to understanding and then appreciation, but at no point in the story do the reader's feelings get put on a shelf. Klassen tethers the reader's emotions to Margaret, pulling out more and more just when you think an even keel has been reached.
Klassen's attention to detail throughout the book is amazing. From a description of the brushes commonly used when cleaning an estate in England in 1815 to the household hierarchy, Klassen has done her research, and the tidbits and information she incorporates into the story add that much more authenticity. I walked away from this having been not only thoroughly entertained, but feeling as if I'd learned something, too.
Not that I was ready to walk away - not by a long shot. Though a rather longish book (my favorite kind!), I wasn't ready to put The Maid down, and so upon finishing the last page I promptly turned back to the middle and kept right on reading. Margaret Macy is one of those timeless characters whom you'd love to meet and aren't ready to leave.
Not that The Maid is all about flue brushes and love songs, either, because that wouldn't do it justice. With everything from social issues like slavery to duels, pirates, and masquerade balls, Klassen doesn't let any dust settle on the plot. She writes with enough humor and fluff to keep the story entertaining but with true, deep issues to make The Maid of Fairbourne Hall much more than, say, a typical beach romance.
I think I've found a new favorite author.
I received a free copy of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.