Lady’s Maid

Thoughts   Lady’s Maid by Margaret Forster, 1991 by Doubleday (first published 1990), 548 pages  |  0385417926 (ISBN 13: 9780385417921)

Genre:  Historical Fiction.   Challenge:   None, personal referral, BBAW 2010 Forgotten Treasure.   Source:  Community Library

When I was last in the hospital for a quick in/out procedure, I asked the prep nurse if she had read any good books lately.   She said, “Yes, Lady’s Maid.   I can’t remember who wrote it but it was really good!”    Somehow, I managed to remember the title and later put it on my TO BE READ list.     When we were prompted with the post idea for the BBAW Forgotten Treasure, this is the book that came to my, even though I had not yet read it.   I do recall thinking it odd that I could not find many if any reviews online in my corner of the book-blogosphere so that is why I chose to highlight this.   Doing this prompted me to search the interlibrary loan service and reserve it.    I tend to read my library books right away – I’m not one to check out a ton of books at one time.   I’m quite monogamous in my reading habits.

I also tend to ramble on posts like this when I fail to write a review in a timely manner.   Yep, I turned the book in already.   DARN.   I also think that I failed to read the Introduction!   I meant to do that.

If you’re still here reading this (wouldn’t it be interesting to have stats tell us how many people skim a first paragraph and then wander off?) then I can only tell you a bit of plot, that I enjoyed it very much, and point you to a better blog’s review.   And then call it a day.   I have a new puppy, you may recall, and she is a cute little time suck…

This novel introduces the reader to the imagined life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s maid, ‘Wilson’.    Historical facts have shown when she first became employed and that she never (quite) left her mistress.   She was a witness to EBB’s elopement with poet Robert Browning, travels with them to Italy and had a super-dooper relationship with their son, Pen.  (READ the END NOTES.)   Lots more happens, of course.

Margaret Forster gives a fascinating (if not long, ahem) look at the life and employment practices in the mid-1800’s,  England AND Italy.

I enjoyed it.    I have no clue how or what to say more.    Honestly, I’m not all that impressed by Ms. Elizabeth.    She comes off a tad on the bitchy manipulative side of the fence when it comes to being her maid’s BFF and then so easily dismissive.    But alas, such were the times?

Amanda of Zen Leaf has reviewed a book that also looks at the life of Mr. and Mrs. Browning, but through the adventures of their dog, Flush.   oh!  and Flush is written by Virginia Woolf!! I can’t tell you how much that intrigues me.   Maybe I just did.    I’m wishlisting this for a read someday and I also want to tackle Aurora Leigh by EBB.   I don’t have much interest in Robert Browning, actually.

Well-written, engaging, lively, with depth.

Do read Litlove’s review, Masters and Servants, at Tales From the Reading Room.    I’m telling you, again.  GO READ LITLOVE..   🙂


Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

18 thoughts on “Lady’s Maid

    1. Kathy, isn’t it scary to consider ourselves in other time periods?!? I have a fear that I would get transported back to the cross-country wagon days on the Oregon Trail and it horrifies me! I also wonder if I had a past life as a scullery maid because I so hate doing floors. ha!

    1. Amanda, no she doesn’t come off bitchy at all. Just very skilled in her choice of words. If you know what I mean and it’s only a few situations – not through the entire time. Remember, this spans many years.

  1. I read this book so many years ago and I have to say I think it’s the book that turned me onto historical fiction. I loved it. My recollection of it now is very sketchy but I just know that I really felt transported to another time. I’m glad you enjoyed it too!

    1. I admit that my personal defn of historical fiction is fictionalized lives of famous people. This one was nuanced and layered and a good story.

  2. Huh. Sounds like a very interesting book. I’m a big fan of both Brownings but I’ll admit I’m usually not enamored of fictionalized accounts of real people. This one sounds decent though!

    1. I haven’t read much historical fiction lately but am a big fan of how authors imagine another’s ‘real’ life. Do go read Litlove’s review – she really ‘got’ it, in my opinion.

  3. This came from Bookmooch not too long ago, and looks just as intriguing as when you first pointed it out, but I have so much else on my reading plate right now that I don’t know when I’m going to be able to get to it! Sad face.

    But at least now it’s in my actual TBR pile, instead of my mental “oh, that would be good to read someday maybe” list, which ups its chances of getting read considerably.

    1. Books IN the house are more likely to get read, right!?!? THAT is the thinking. Until I forget what great cool books I already own and need to read, then run out and buy more to add to the languishing stack.

      Sad face, I know. So here’s a happy face so you know that you are not alone! 🙂

  4. The end note irritated me. The author said something critical about Robert Browning’s not continuing to pay Wilson after she left their employ, after Elizabeth died. That really bothered me! I love me some Brownings. ❤

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