Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt--and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?
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Customer Reviews for The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
Review 1 for The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
Story was interesting.
Date:January 24, 2013
Loved the book.......couldn't put it down. I never knew exactly what maids did in English homes in England snd the story line was good and you never knew what trouble she would get into next.
It’s been months (!!!) since I read The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and I’m just now getting around to posting my review. Ack! Back in March, I said this was “hands down” my favorite read of the month, and I can say in August that this book will make the top 10 list for this year.
Margaret Macy realizes she must leave home to avoid her stepfather’s plot to marry her off to a horrible man. As she flees from her home and her pampered lifestyle, she finds work as a maid, hoping that the man of the house will marry her and rescue her from her stepfather. Margaret must hide her identity until the time is right, and in the meantime must learn to be a maid. Will she find the security she longs for at Fairbourne Hall? Or will she learn that some things are more important than fulfilling her own plans?
Julie Klassen is a new-to-me author, and I’m so glad I took a chance on her with The Maid of Fairbourne Hall! Klassen writes with great detail—her research process must be intense!—and does a beautiful job of making the setting, characters, and story truly come alive. I loved learning about the life of servants during this period and their relationship with the family. The story was intriguing as well, with enough questions and unknown elements to keep me curious as to the next turn the story would take.
There were a ton of characters in this book, which at times had me backtracking to confirm someone’s identity. Overall, though, the life-like characters drew me into the story and I really connected with them. I originally thought that Margaret was going to simply be a spoiled little rich girl. There was so much more to her, though, and I was glad that the author wrote with so much depth and feeling. It helped me be an empathetic reader! Plus, the challenge of writing a character with a dual-identity made for some humorous moments as well.
Thank you, Julie Klassen, for writing one of the best novels I've read all year! [5 stars]
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my fair and honest review.
This book is for Jane Austen fans!! The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is my first read by Ms. Klassen and it won't likely be my last. I was captivated by her portrayal of 1800s England and the class separation. It is so different from today!
Margaret Macy is in a predicament. Her evil stepfather wishes to steal her inheritance by forcing her to marry his nephew, Marcus Benton. Luckily enough for Margaret, she cannot marry without her consent. What's not so lucky is that her 25th birthday (at which point in time she shall receive her inheritance) is still three months off. How shall she put off her scheming uncle and his nephew for so long? Simple really. She flees with her ex-maid Joan. Just like Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife.
Along her flight she discovers the only option to protect herself, and her money, is to become a maid. So with the help of Joan they make up a new name for her- Nora Garrett. But their time together is cut short when Joan is quickly hired off, leaving Margaret to her own devices.
I really enjoyed watching Margaret's character develop, as well as Nate's too. The setting and storyline were engaging leaving my only complaint to be that sometimes the story lagged.
Alright, this is my honest review of this book. First and foremost, the cover is just gorgeous and looks very promising, which is a sure way to catch a reader's attention. I am no Jane Austeen fan, but that did not hinder my anticipation as I started this book, I was really looking foward to it! Julie Klassen has a unique voice in Christian Fiction and I always somehow look out for her works. The beginning engaged me, and was really a page-turner. It was filled with suspense, a bit of romance and even surprisingly a few funny moments- I enjoyed it very much. My only complaint was that the writing style was very repetitive. And then towards the end, I found the story dragging. There were some details added that were not important in my opinion. And in general, it felt like there were some things (and characters) in the beginning that were labeled important, but in the end, nothing really interesting happened with them, while there were some factors that were coming out of nowhere and were suddenly the most important. I was looking for more, I guess. The ending could have had more flow with the story in general and it could have been way more satisfying! The story was also filled with plenty of red herrings, which is good in a way, but can also be as frustrating as the way Margaret Macy's strong-will would manifest itself. And then the romance? O my, very good! Nate is charming and his story with Miss Macy is sure to make anyone sigh.. that is, until you turn the last page, the ending was SO abrupt! This story started well, but could have ended so beautifully...*sigh*. Nevertheless, I will read some of Julie's other works and I encourage her to continue.
Julie Klassen creates engaging characters with a well developed and descriptive plot, weaving mystery, intrigue and romance. I found this book inspirational and engaging, and hard to put down. I gave it 4 starts because I was expecting the characters to be a bit more spiritually developed, and to grow in depth spiritually at some point in the story. However, this is my first Klassen novel, so it could be that it's just not her style. I enjoyed the story line all the way through, was never bored and never found myself skipping through pages. Overall, I would call this an uplifting novel, but if it could be described as Christian I would say it's light Christian. Still, a good really read!
I always enjoy Julie Klassen's books, but I particularly loved this book because of Margaret's growth in maturity. In the beginning I was kind of dreading reading this book because Margaret was a horrible character, but with her circumstances bringing her to a point where she has to be humble and understand what most people have to deal with in order to survive, and her willingness to work through her unpleasant situation and grow and learn from it, made the story a true delight. Don't miss this one.
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Review 8 for The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
Riches to rags to riches :)
Date:May 25, 2012
Location:Colorado Springs, Co
I really enjoyed this story, even though it was a little predictable. With most cases of happily ever after some elements are kinda hard to not be predictable. However this book made my heart happy with its memorable characters and wonderful setting. As Margaret attempts to disappear into life at Fairbourne Hall, she learns the hard way what her servants have lived with their whole lives. She has to function without the help of many people at her beck and call and within the rules of proper household society. I was sad to reach the end because I fell in love with the characters and wasn't ready to leave them. Give it a try, you will be glad you did! (Review copy provided by publisher, all opinions are mine)
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Review 9 for The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
A fave of 2012
Date:May 7, 2012
Julie Klassen has written a clever book that incorporates what readers love of Jane Austen, Downton Abbey and even a bit of Jane Eyre. The novel offers everything a historical romance reader looks for, and I was sad to let these fun characters go. Margaret Macy’s once spoiled life takes a turn for the worse after her father dies and her evil step-father wants to take control of her inheritance. She impulsively runs away, and finds herself becoming a maid in a household where two former suitors reside, Nathanial and Lewis Upchurch.
Margaret, masquerading as Nora, mimics the servants’ mannerisms and dons a wig to hide her identity, eventually finding an unexpected accomplice in the sister at Fairbourne Hall. Margaret matures as she is able to realize how blessed her life once was and acknowledges the hard life of a servant, as well as the missed opportunity with Nathanial. However, the disappearance of Margaret from the social set causes a stir, forcing her out of hiding. Is there hope that the right Upchurch brother could rescue Margaret? The atmosphere of the belowstairs administering to the upper crust, along with historical quotes annotating each chapter makes this an entertaining and inspiring read.
I loved this one and recommend it to lovers of either historical fiction, romance, regency or inspirational readers. There were small mentions of Margaret's doubts of spirituality, but it was barely a theme, so if you are one who does not like Christian Fiction, please do not let that label persuade you to not read this one. This was an entertaining read that I couldn't put down, and I already have The Girl in the Gatehouse, Lady of Milkweed Manor and The Apothecary's Daughter on my TBR shelf and will definitely be adding anything else of hers that she writes.
How on earth have I not discovered Julie Klassen before now? I'm typically drawn more towards American, prairie historical romances but Julie is an excellent writer, regardless of what time period her novels are set in. Such attention to detail! This might put some readers off, but being a budding historian myself this appealed to me massively. I'm now seriously considering writing about Victorian servants for my dissertation, as Julie made the subject far more interesting than I initially expected.
I will admit that I was initially a bit wary of Margaret as she seemed quite stuck-up and snobbish at the beginning of the novel. But it was wonderful to see much she grew over the course of the novel. Sometimes it's worth starting out with a dislikable character in order to make the character's growth more interesting. As well as the strength of historical detail, I also adored the originality of the secondary characters - none of them seemed like cardboard cut-outs, which is something that often occurs when a novel is swimming in secondary characters, as this one was. Helen, Hudson, Lewis, Betty, Fiona - they were all believable and endearing in their own ways.
I suppose you could say the romance was pretty standard for a historical novel, or complain that the hero and heroine didn't spend much time together, seeing as she was pretending to be a servant and he was the master of the house. Somehow, this didn't detract from the story for me. The mystery of Margaret's disappearance and Nathaniel's fears about his ship and his brother twisted around the romance and drew it out without making the reader get impatient. I thoroughly enjoyed all the twists and turns Margaret and Nathaniel had to wade through before they were able to reveal their true colours to each other. The ending was sweet, simple and very satisfying.
I think the best way to describe this book is to say that it's comforting. It's spring break and I'm attempting to catch up on all the reading I've got behind on this semester at university, and I picked up this novel in the hope that it would bring a nice 30 minute break from all of the eighteenth century literature I'm wading through. Three days later, I've just managed to put the book down! It was the perfect time to read this book as well - amazingly, it's been 20 degrees celsius for three days straight in Scotland in March. I've spent most days lying on a blanket on the grass outside my house or taking advantage - for once - of the fact that we live a minute's walk from the beach. This was an excellent beach book. I will definitely be getting hold of more of Julie's books this coming summer! So to those who regularly read regency romances - and I do believe that this is my first - this story might not be so special or original, but it was just what I needed at this point in my life. It was immensely comforting and satisfying.
Julie Klassen gives us an absorbing glimpse into the life of 1800s London in The Maid of Fairbourne Hall. Historical fiction with a bit of romance in a well-researched pleasurable read. The female lead character is Margaret Macy. Margaret is a 19th century woman who is in the cusp of receiving her inheritance when it becomes evident that a plot is afoot to marry her off to a dishonorable man.
Margaret Macy absolutely must leave because her stepfather and would-be fiancé are plotting for her inheritance through this unwanted marriage. She leaves the only life she has known stealthily and seeks employment in a home as a housemaid - knowing full-well she doesn't know a single thing about housework.
In Margaret's new place of employment, she encounters Nathaniel Upchurch, the second son in the household, a former romantic interest of Margaret's, and the male lead character. Nathaniel is a man of strong character and resolve.
The status conflict between servant help and their rank is revealed early in the story. Now employed at Fairbourne Hall, our untrained servant and former upper class lady, Margaret, discovers she might soon be revealed because of her rank (pun intended) lack of skills.
We are given a good look at the classic interaction and rank among the servants that was so prevalent in the 1800s London home. Getting to see what life was like for the servants of each level is an interesting journey into history. I remember visiting Biltmore House in Asheville, NC and seeing the servants' work area and also the servants' sleeping areas. There were distinct differences and the accommodations for the servants, while adequate, were extremely modest. That was America and the wealthy class during this same period. The difference was more profound in London and Europe.
Klassen is a Jane Austen expert and has secured a place as a noted author of the Regency period. She researches each new book thoroughly. Some of her many sources for the current release are used as a quotation at the beginning of each chapter.
I found this to be an entertaining and enlightening book to read. Julie Klassen presents her readers with a joy of a read.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary review copy of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions expressed are my own.
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Review 12 for The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
Date:April 1, 2012
I love historical romance novels! If your like me this novel will surpass your expectations easily. Aside from romance in a historical setting there is rebellion, mystery, intrigue, scandal, and charisma.
The characters are intriguing and there is more to each of them than meets the eye. I love that each character has a story behind them no matter how big or small. This really helped bring each and every one of them to life, and made the story come to life. I will admit that at first I really despised the main character, Margaret Macy, because she seemed so spoiled and uppity. She had little sympathy for anyone other than herself, but at the same time I caught some glimpses her more gentler side which helped me soften towards her. I was drawn even closer to her when she was thrust into a humbled way of life. Due to her fleeing her home in order to escape her planned marriage under forced circumstances she not only had to serve as a maid, but she found compassion towards those she merely ordered around in her privileged life. It was quite refreshing to see her placed at the servants level because she began to see them as the people they are rather than merely household servants. Despite his brusque beginning in the novel I felt a pull towards Nathaniel Upchurch. From Margaret's brief descriptions of him and their past with him being a suitor I could just tell there was more to him than met the eye. I couldn't wait to uncover more about him, and I wasn't disappointed. I loved the characters pull towards each other and you could almost feel the electricity between the pages. It was a hard book to put down to say the least. I really didn't feel as if this novel lagged at all since there is something going on constantly, and I was kept at the edge of my seat wondering if Margaret would be found out in her maids getup. I really want to go into more details about this book, but I just can't without giving anything away. I will say that I was on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next. This novel is very uplifting, and humbling. Aside from truly enjoying this novel as a fantastic read it will have you looking at others in a whole new light as you've never seen them before. As much as I have always enjoyed a good historical romance I will admit I haven't given MUCH thought to the maid characters in them, and this really opened my eyes. A wonderful read that I highly recommend to all you historical romance buffs.
DISCLAIMER: I was provided this book for free through Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my unbiased review. Opinions expressed are mine alone.
Margaret Macy is your typical spoiled rich girl. She lives in the 19th century England in a wealthy family with servants, boarding schools and the like. However, even the rich have their problems. Margaret's mother married a scoundrel, Sterling Benton, who gambled all his money and is now looking to scam the Macy women out of theirs. He has a nephew that he wants Margaret to marry, but she has her sights set elswhere. Margaret overhears a plan the two men cook up to rape her and pressure her into marriage with the marriage being the only way to save herself from the scandel of the rape. She runs away from home and hides with another family discising herself as a servant. Through her servitude she learns a great deal about humanity, kindness, and what is important in life. One thing I can always say when I finish a Julie Klassen novel is that I am really glad I was born in my own time. Being a woman of the 19th century must have really stunk. "The Maid of Fairbourne Hall" is a really interesting story. The subject matter is rather unusual. Most 19th century novels show only the rich and the servants are rarely mentioned. If they are, they tend to be loyal to the masters and find them of "quality" and "class". Never sounded very true-to-life to me and this book tends to agree. The maids in this book feel and think exactly how I have always felt about all my bosses. I don't think "quality" was a word I ever used to describe them. It tends to get a little long. Still a pretty good book. I received "The Maid of Fairbourne Hall" by Julie Klassen for free from Bethany Publishers.
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Review 14 for The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
A great read if you are into historical fiction
Date:March 26, 2012
I have absolutely enjoyed all of Julie Klassens books & this lastest one lives up to her usual standard. I could not put it down! Now waiting for her next book!
Maid of Fairbourne Hall is the first book by Julie Klassen that I have read. Once started I could not put it down. Turning off my light at 2:30 am. No wonder Julie Klassen has won two Christy awards and was a finalist in the Rita. Her characters are well rounded. Their goals and motivations are easy to understand and I found myself rooting for Margaret Macy to prevail.
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall was a very interesting and well written story. At the very first page, you are thrown into a sea of action. The whole entire book from beginning to end was action filled and fast paced. I really enjoyed the epigraphs, the author used at the beginning of each chapter. They allowed you to get an incite of what the following chapter was about, without spoiling the story. It also gave one further intelligence to the life of servanthood during this time period.
At the beginning, Margaret, is a snippy vain women used to getting everything she wanted when she wanted. It was so fun to watch this up class lady turn into a mere servant, what a humbling process. The author took you through each step of the transformation in Margaret's life. We journeyed with her at the beginning, when she could not even untie her laces in her corset, then when she began her first cleaning duties, the hardening of her perfectly manicured hands, and right up to the point when she becomes a very capable and independent servant. This transformation was not just from lady to servant, it was a matter of Margarets' inner woman. In the end she was able to put her whole trust in the Lord. What a rewarding transformation!
The author did a great job writing this story. Not once did you wish to abandon this book, you actually want the story to go on. The romance was clean, and fresh nothing redundant. The action in the book was breathtaking, the emotions strung high, the suspense was thrilling, making this a complete package for an awesome read. I give this book it's much deserved 5 out of 5 stars.
So far I have enjoyed reading the majority of Julie Klassen's historical romances. This one was no exception. The concept intrigued me from the outset, and the way the author pulled me in kept me reading was well done. At first the heroine wasn't very likable, but the author changed that by putting Margaret in a very humbling situation. Then the hero wasn't very likable, but once I was inside his head that all changed as well. I've never read a book where I disliked both main characters right off the bat, but because of the hardships endured by both parties, I gave them a chance. I'm glad I did.
This story was a fairly long one, but I didn't feel like any part of the novel was not necessary to the plot, or used as filler. The surprising thing was I ended up liking several additional characters that I was not fond of at the book's onset. I'm not quite sure how the author did that, but she must have sold me on their behavior. I'm thinking the fact that they acted like real people would act made their situations more believable to me. I liked how the ruse continued and how difficult it was for Margaret to keep it going. The scene where the hero reveals that he knew who she really was made me a bit breathless. I wish their had been more scenes like that in the book.
All in all, this was a captivating read. I always find stories where the rich are humbled by being forced into lower class situations -- usually in order to protect themselves -- quite intriguing. Because there is a bit of mystery to the story, I don't want to spoil it for the reader by giving away details that will take away from their experience. However, I can say that I loved the twists and how the author set things up. I also appreciated the spiritual arc in the story, though subtle for the most part. I found myself rooting for the characters to find love in the end. This was a nice read.
THE MAID OF FAIRBOURNE HALL by Julie Klassen is an interesting inspirational historical fiction set in 1815 London. I like the charactrr Margaret,how she was able to hide her identity and how sh managed to fine a job. The twist in this story makes you want to keep on reading. The author has done a wonderful job of bringing the characters to light. I would highly recommend thips book to everyone, you will not regret reading "The Maid Of Fairbourne Hall". A very good story. Received from Bethany House,a division of Baker Publishing Group for an honest review. Details can be found at the author's website,the publisher's website,and My Book Addiction and More.
Let's start with a little information about the characters...
Margaret Elinor Macy - hieress to a fortune and main character in this book
Sterling Benton - Margaret's step father and vilian/manipulator after her fortune
Marcus Benton - Sterling's puppet of a nephew out to marry Margaret and her fortune
Lewis Upchurch - aka Don Juan had courted Margaret at one time. He is all play no work
Nathaniel Upchurch - younger brother of Lewis. He is all work no play. Also courted and proposed to Margaret, she turned him down leaving him bitter.
The Poet Pirate - anonymous
Helen Upchurch - sister of Lewis and Nathaniel. She has become a spinster due to lost love.
Joan - Margaret's maid whom helped her to escape the villianous stepfather and nephew.
Nora Garret - Margarets new name while in disguise.
Fairbourne Hall - resident of the Upchurch family and Margaret's new place of employment as servant.
Mr. Hudson - house steward at Fairbourne Hall. Hired Margaret as servant at Fairbourne Hall.
These are just the main characters there are many more that make up this story.
Margaret Elinor Macy was determined to come up with a plan to flee her step father's iron rule. Sterling Benton not only taken over the financial responsibilties of his new family he also chose to lock away all the families jewels. He also has plans to marry off Margaret to his puppet of a nephew, Marcus Benton, in order go get control of a very large fortune Margaret is soon to inherit. She overheard Sterling and Marcus scheming to go as far as comprimising her virtue forcing her to marry Marcus. This she would not allow to happen she had to find a way to escape.
She seeked out an old friend Lewis Upchurch to help her hide away from Sterling but to no avail. When she was home alone she took money from her step father's room which resulted in her maid, Joan, being accused of the theft and was fired. Margaret convinced the maid to help her escape and give her safe haven. She decides to disguise herself by wearing a wig and coloring her eyebrows darker along with wearing a pair of her father's old glasses. Margaret no longer goes by her real name she is now to be known as Nora Garret and plans to hire out as a servant to support herself until she comes into her inheritance. She had no clue as how to be a servant. But she had no other recourse.
Nora is hired as a house maid by Mr. Hudson, a house steward. When she nears her new place of employment she is shocked to see it is none other that Fairbourne Hall home of the man she spurned, Nathaniel Upchurch and his brother Lewis. Along with their sister, Helen, mistress of the Fairbourne Hall.
She fears she will be recognized and sent back to face whatever her step father has in store for her. But to her amazement she is able to keep secret from everyone. Are does she?
It was really diffucult for me to know just how much of the story I should share in this review. There is so much secrecy among all of the characters, along with manipulation and intrigue. Of course there is a chance for some romance in the story also. It is said that the author's writing is comparable to that of Jane Austen's and I whole heartily agree.
There are many interesting quotes in the book. This is one of many...
Housemaids were meant to be invisible, and all cleaning had to be performed either before the family to up or while they were absent. As one housemaid later wrote. "It was assumed, I suppose, that the fairies had been at the rooms." Trevor May, The Victorian Domestic Servant
I highly recommend this book.
I rate this book a 5 out of 5.
Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book for review by Bethany House Publisher/Litfuse. I was in no way compensated for this review, it is my own opinion.
Another GREAT book by Julie Klassen. I loved it!! Talk about going from Rags to Riches Margaret Macy as Nora goes from Riches to Rags. What an eye opener for this young 24 year old woman. They live in England in 1815, and she is from Money! They have oodles of servants for everything. When she overhears her Step-Father encouraging his Nephew Marcus to get with it marry her, at all costs, even if he has to molest her and then save her face. She knows she has to get away, by chance their maid Joan is fired, for something she did, and she takes her to her sister's! You will not believe that this pampered girl is able to do all that she accomplishes. Is she going to be able to last, or will she end up going home to having someone else dress her? She ends up at the home of two of her former suitors, and you will have to wonder if one or neither of these men, Nathaniel or Lewis will end up with her. Don't miss this one, reminiscent of old England and some of its glory! I also love how Nate reinstated a prayer meeting for all of the help each morning. This is a great Christian Romance Story!
I received this book from the Publisher Bethany House, and was not required to give a positive review.