In The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen, Margaret Macy is a well-to-do young woman in London whose mother has remarried a man only interested in the family’s wealth. He had thought Mrs. Macy was the one to receive an inheritance, but it is actually Margaret who will come into it on her next birthday. So Margaret’s step-father, Sterling Benton, brings his nephew in to woo Margaret, planning to “manage” their finances after they marry. But Margaret can easily see that Benton’s nephew is no better than he is, and after overhearing their unscrupulous plans, she escapes, hoping to hide out a few months until her next birthday when she comes into independence.
She disguises herself and travels as far away as what little money she has in hand will take her. She finds a hiring fair, hoping to find work as a maid, even though she has never done any such labor in her life. She is hired by a kindly steward and doesn’t learn til they are on their way that the home they are going to is one in which two brothers who had been former suitors of hers live.
Her disguise seems to work, though, and Margaret learns over time that she may have misjudged both the brother she spurned as well as the one she preferred. She also learns much about herself and life “below stairs.”
This was a delightful book. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked and then look for nooks and crannies of time beyond the norm to get a few pages read.
I’ve read books about maids before, but this one incorporated a lot of information that was new to me.
I had seen Julie Klassen’s books but hadn’t yet read one. When this one was free for the Kindle app (at the time, it no longer is), I decided to try it, and now I’ll be looking for Julie’s other books as well!
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)