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The Making of a Marchioness cover art

The Making of a Marchioness

By: Frances Hodgson-Burnett
Narrated by: Lucy Scott
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Summary

Frances Hodgson Burnett published The Making of a Marchioness in 1901. She had written Little Lord Fauntleroy 15 years before and would write The Secret Garden in 10 years' time; it is these two books for which she is best known. Yet Marchioness was one of Nancy Mitford's favourite books, was considered 'the best novel Mrs Hodgson Burnett wrote' by Marghanita Laski, and is taught on a university course in America together with novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Daisy Miller.

Public Domain (P)2011 Persephone

What listeners say about The Making of a Marchioness

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A tale in 2 halves

I loved Frances Hodgson Burnett as a child, but hadn't realised she had written adult fiction too, so when I found this I was prepared for a treat.
Initially, it seems like a straightforward glimpse into the life of a well-bred woman who was making the best of having to earn a living in as genteel way as she can. She makes a marriage of convenience and settles down to her new station. We see also the desperation of other women, whose families depend on them to make a good marriage, and the unhappiness a forced marriage can bring. So far so good. A gentle story, easy to listen to, without surprises.
The second half, however gradually develops a sense of menace with the introduction of some distant relatives of her husband. She, in her innocence can't see the danger as others do . .
Lucy Scott is an excellent narrator and does a superb job.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and it is one I would happily listen to again.

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37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A demonstration of Edwardian Manners

Oh how nicely observed is the amazing story of the Marchioness. Frances Hodgson-Burnett casts a wry and good humoured eye over the establishment and dig\s out a gem of a woman. This dear lady ( and wouldn't we all take her as a wife) problems begin when she first dons her coronet and her husband goes to India leaving her to be the target of the jealousy and even homicidal ambitions of others. Though the end is a little abrupt this is a gem well worth while and sensitively read by the estimable Lucy Scott

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27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Beautiful to hear the old English



Doesn't really matter if you like the story or not the language is lovely and poetic. Shows how words have changed in their meaning.



Gentle story and rather adictive

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22 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Comfort reading

I got this after having falling in love with Lucy Scott's narration of Jane Eyre and I wasn't disappointed. Hugely enjoyable and pure Sunday afternoon comfort. I love, love, love her rendition of Mrs Walderhurst's maid Jane Cupp.

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20 people found this helpful

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Enjoyed far more than I expected

I bought this book because
a) I loved the secret garden as a girl
b) it was on my list of ‘should read as it’s a classic’

I was expecting it to be heavy going but I couldn’t put it down. Loved the characters and had no idea how it might end.

WARNING THOUGH! The attitudes towards different races and cultures are very colonial and would be offensive in a modern book
I read this with the times it was written in mind but other people might be upset.

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A sweet little story turns nauseatingly racist

I strive to engage with old books on their own terms. I expect there to be elements that are distasteful to modern sensibilities. I am a forgiving reader.

With that in mind, please take my full meaning when I say the latter half of this book engages in racism that is so shocking and malicious it completely taints the experience.

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9 people found this helpful

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Touching story of unexpected love and fortune

I very much enjoyed this having not come across it previously but having read FHB's other books as a child. It had the same delicate touch and empathy with the characters protagonist and antagonists. Whilst drawing the reader into the story with unexpected twists and turns, it focuses on the very gentle love and life of a very kind and sweet lady, and you root for her all the way.

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9 people found this helpful

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An Education in Kindness

What made the experience of listening to The Making of a Marchioness the most enjoyable?

Although the narrator was wonderful the character of Emily Fox-Seton is the real gold here - if more of us (men, women, children, marchionesses, the lot) read this book and tried to be more like Emily the world would be a kinder place. Really if the Government/Church of England/School Boards and so on asked themselves "What would Emily Fox-Seton do?" when making important decisions they'd probably do more good for more people.

What other book might you compare The Making of a Marchioness to, and why?

It's a slightly more grown-up version of the same author's A Little Princess and illustrates the same ways to be kind and wonderful during adversity without being a pious bore.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The engagement and the wretched fish of course!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Very much so and I almost did.

Any additional comments?

Lucy Scott was an ideal choice of narrator for such an underappreciated classic.

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7 people found this helpful

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what a horrible story! (so pleasantly told!)

I read this book after the secret garden and the little princess, by the same author, having loved those two! and even though this is told very pleasantly and in such a lovely writing style, the story is actually rather nasty! wouldn't recommend this one!

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observational and melodramatic

This book (or rather books as it's two combined) are an odd mixture. There is what I might describe as observational comedy. The author is quite wry about the intelligence of her protagonists and generally describes Emily as childlike.
She is also very frank about the precarious position of women in society. Emily is of good family, but has to earn her own keep in a genteel way. She is rather unimaginative, so is able to be quite cheerful about this, but when she receives a knock that will take away the one real comfort in her life she realises how dependent she is on knowing she has that comfort.
Another character in the first part of the book is under huge pressure to find a husband in a short space of time and her duty to her family to do so is emphasised in daily letters.
Both these women simply see this as their role in life, but it is clear the author is as not accepting.
The second section is quite patchy. It is melodramatic, but I don't feel the melodrama works well - I couldn't wallow in it and it seems to go by fits and starts, rather than building to a climax.

Interspersed with the melodrama there is more observation. Again a woman who felt the need to marry because of security, but it did not work for her. We are also shown the build up of tension as people find themselves drawn more and more into the path of wrongdoing, because they can't the face the thought of losing what they have currently and might have in future. It's clear that but for their situation they might have carried on as they were, in an unhappy marriage, but would probably have gone no further. In fact for a long time I was not certain which way Hester would go.
What leaves rather a bad taste, but would be indicative of the time the book was written is the attitude to Indians, though even there a couple of characters confess their difficulty in liking an Indian woman, as they know they should make an effort to do so.

The book is well narrated, with characters' voices coming through well.

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4 people found this helpful