by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Series: Emily Fox-Seton #
Publication Date: January 1, 1901
Genre: classic, fiction
Project: a century of women
First published in 1901 as The Making of a Marchioness followed by its sequel The Methods of Lady Walderhurst, the two novels were combined into Emily Fox-Seton who is the two works' primary character. The story follows thirty-something Emily who lives alone, humbly and happily, in a tiny apartment and on a meager income. She is the one that everyone counts on but no one goes out of their way to accommodate. Her fortune changes, however, and the second half chronicles her adaptation to her new life and the dangers that arise from those who stand to lose most from her new circumstances.
Let me begin by saying that A Little Princess, even more than The Secret Garden, is a beloved book of my childhood. I was surprised to find out, then, that Hodgson Burnett had actually also written adult fiction. A few years ago, I read The Shuttle, which I really enjoyed, and which is a novel about an American heiress who marries an English aristocrat, who turns out to be an abusive asshole. I may actually have to reread it, given how much I enjoyed this one.
I selected this book for my 1901 entry in A Century of Women for two reasons – my public library had the Persephone edition available for me to check out and those early years are the hardest ones for me to fill. I really love reading Persephone editions; the books are so well-constructed, the paper is a bit on the thicker and creamier side than the average paperback and the covers are sturdy. They fit so well in my hand.
I ended up just loving this book, and will be on the lookout for a copy to add to my personal library. It reminded me of something that Elizabeth Von Arnim might have written, although Hodgson Burnett doesn’t have the bite that von Arnim often adds to her books. Emily Fox-Seton is a lovely character, and spending time with her was soothing. The book contains both of the Emily Fox-Seton books: the first book, that is really more of a novella, called The Making of the Marchioness, and then the sequel, which is longer, called The Methods of Lady Walderhurst. I liked Part I, the Cinderella story, a bit more than Part II, which is what happened after Cinderella marries her prince, if her prince had been 50 years old and quite set in his ways. Part II is a bit on the gothic melodramatic side, but I’m not opposed to a little melodrama between friends.