When I turned the page to this week in my gorgeous Persephone Diary I saw that the fabric image for this week is a pretty 1901 cotton print of tulips. This is the endpaper of ‘The Making of a Marchioness’, by Francis Hodgson Burnett, the book I was so thrilled to receive from Adrienne at Some of a Kind after the Persephone Reading weekend. This is obviously the week to read it!
It is a charming, pretty, funny, sad and observant little book, though like Francis Hodgson Burnett’s famous classic The Secret Garden, not at all a little story. It follows the summer days of Emily Fox-Seton who has a ‘nice, flat, straight back’ and who earns her living being helpful to others. She is invited to a country house party, one of those that, at the turn of the century, went on for weeks and here she watches three women all vying to become the wife of another guest, the Marquis of Walderhurst.
There’s Miss Cora Brook, the wealthy beauty from Cincinnati; Lady Agatha Slade, the penniless beauty who is first encountered charmingly leaning against an ilex tree with a snow white Borzoi; and Mrs Ralph ‘the kind of woman who means business, talks literature and rolls her fine eyes too much’.
In it’s own way, I found it un-put-downable – I had to know whom the Marquis chose! And now I do know I have to get hold of Part Two of this tale, The Methods of Lady Walderhurst, to see what happens next.
So thank you again Adrienne for introducing me to a new Francis Hodgson Burnett. I may have to re-read The Secret Garden now!