Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

When her scheming stepfather determines to wed her to his conniving nephew Margaret Macy knows she must take desperate measures in order to avoid a matrimonial disaster.  Disguising herself as a housemaid and deserting London for the country town of Maidstone, Margaret discovers her privileged life has left her completely unprepared for manual work and the ignominies of being a servant.  Shocked to discover she has been employed at Fairbourne Hall, the home of the Upchurch brothers - Nathaniel whom she rejected and Lewis who had found her wanting.

Nathaniel Upchurch has too long remained in his flamboyant and handsome brother's shadow.  As he returns from the family's Barbados sugar plantation to balance the books at home, Nate spurns the woman who painfully rejected his suit but his heart refuses to follow his head.  When she disappears Nate is left to ponder what might have been.

As Margaret tries to hide her fumbling ignorance of household chores and remain unrecognised, her stepfather is on the prowl, spreading rumours and scheming ways to flush her out from hiding.  Sharing life with people she would have barely noticed in her former life, Margaret learns that kindness and loyalty cannot be bought and first impressions should not be lasting.
Julie Klassen has penned another exceptional Regency era historical romance with  the beautifully rendered The Maid of Fairbourne Hall.  Classic prose, multi faceted characters and an entertaining upstairs downstairs plot make this story a joy to read.  Heralded as a contemporary Jane Austen, Klassen writes with insight, wit and depth.  From fascinating historical details that make the Hall and its inhabitants come alive, to the engaging characters of Margaret, Nate, Hudson and Joan and the mysterious villain, this novel is enthralling in every aspect.  Nate is enjoyably reminiscent of the brooding yet vulnerable John Thornton of Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South while Margaret's eye opening transformation from self focused debutante to humble servant is unmissable.  Simply put, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is a delightful pleasure, a story to savour more than once.  Klassen's star continues to shine brightly indeed!

As seen at

With thanks to Bethany for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of The Silent Governess, The Apothecary's Daughter & Lady of Milkweed Manor
Character spotlight on Olivia and Lord Bradley
Character spotlight on Mariah & Matthew
Character spotlight on Lilly
Visit Julie's website
Buy Julie's books at Amazon or Koorong


Marianne said...

Your review on a delightful novel is priceless. Thank you so much for sharing!

Julie Klassen said...

Thanks so much, Rel. You write wonderful reviews and I'm so happy to know how much you enjoyed the book.

Gabrielle Meyer said...

I have just started reading "The Maid of Fairbourne Hall" (Margaret has just arrived at Fairbourne Hall and has just made her first bed). I enjoyed reading your review and can't wait to see Margaret's journey unfold. Love Julie Klassen novels!

Brasil said...

Not exactly a romance. Historical Fiction akin to a spy suspense story but on a domestic manor house front. It is even liken-able to a spin off of the TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs" or "Berkeley Square." Yet Julie Klassen has her own personal style of writing which is so picturesque, you feel like the linseed oil mixed with the oil paints as she brushes in the color on the pages of her canvas. All senses are on alert in a Klassen book. For example, you whiff the aroma when The Maid of Fairbourne Hall dumps a chamber pot that has a clinging residue. See?...It's not all romance.

How ironic is Margaret's life, dumping the chamber pot of a man she could have married. She refused the gentleman 2 years earlier, when she was a lady. Of course, Klassen knows she might well be run through with a foil should she not have this heroine find true love by the end of the final chapter. It is, of course, regal Regency romance. Spot on, and steaming up like a pot o' English tea. But it's the journey through 34 historical chapters that makes this as sweetly tasty as hot cross sticky buns. But you never really have time to feel any preliminary predictable love-found conclusion. You constantly wonder if the diminishing family fortune plays a role in love unrequited.

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