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The Making of a Marchioness

(Emily Fox-Seton #1)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,529 ratings  ·  189 reviews
First published in 1901, The Making of a Marchioness 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. This Cinderella-like story remains a much-loved favorite among many.

This book is followed by a sequel, The Methods of Lad
Published 2011 by Persephone (first published 1901)
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WARNING: This story was published in 1901 and the 2nd half (originally printed separately as The Methods of Lady Walderhurst) contains elements of casual and matter-of-fact racism that was a product of its time but offends the modern reader.


I have been contemplating for some time the rating for this book. I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars, but in the end I decided on 4 because my enjoyment of the book actually far outweighs my original bewilderment about the c
Petra-X has 81 books awaiting reviews
Part one: sweet love story, the commoner gets the prince sort of thing, Kate and William.
Part two: embarrassingly bad Gothic horror rubbish.

Subtotal, a book that deteriorates considerably until it finally ended and I could breathe a sigh of relief from such a dreadful potboiler.

Bonus one: It is short.
Bonus two: It was made into a tv movie, "The Making of a lady" which also starts off good then ditto.

Total: Save your money and buy a box of Milk Tray, eat all the chocolates you like the best and t
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know why I ordered this book. I usually have notes in my TBR list regarding what prompted me to pursue a certain book. So I cannot give my sincerest thanks to whomever reviewed this book and influenced my decision. What a wonderful book! 😊

This was from Persephone Books (London). I might as well read every book in their collection… I put this publishing house on the same level as the New York Review of Books.

Frances Hodgson Burnett was a prolific author and famous in her day (late 19th ce
Francis Hodgson Burnett is best known for her children's books, including The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy. Like those stories, The Making of a Marchioness explores the world of the British upper classes.

On one level this is a fairy story--set in Edwardian England, just about at the turn of the century. Cinderella reappears in the form of Emily Fox-Seton, a young woman of gentle birth and training, but nearly destitute. Emily, a spinster at thirty-five, cobbles together a slender li
A very enjoyable short novel, written in late Victorian era. Emily Fox-Seton is such a thoroughly enjoyable young woman, so glad to believe the best of others. In some ways she is a type of Pollyanna character herself, but without being conscious of it or rubbing it in other people's faces. Recommended as a pleasant, light read. ...more
Kudos to Lucy Scott for the excellent narration!

Here is my original review for the Persephone Books paperback edition.
Brenda Clough
A very Victorian/Edwardian style of fiction. Professionally speaking, I can spot the passive heroine, the contrived plot (everybody conveniently falling ill and then recovering at the right moment!), and the clumsy murder attempts, doomed to failure. Surely the heroine cannot be as dumb as she is depicted as being; it is significant that all the characters and the narrator assure the reader at least once every chapter that Emily is not stupid, because she sure acts that way. And is it deliberate ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
After catching the movie on late night PBS (titled "The Making of a Lady"), I was curious to read the book, to see if the rather silly mistakes that drive the plot are part of the original story. They are, indeed, although the character of the woman was somewhat changed in the movie. The tall, naive, straightforward Emily in the book is repeatedly described, with favor, as "stupid" and "big", just as Lord Walderhurst her husband is described as, "dull", and "beyond middle-aged" (he's mid-50s).

Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book (I actually read "Emily Fox-Seton," which is the two parts of the story in one--the second part was originally published separately as "The Methods of Lady Walderhurst."

The first part is a Cinderella-like story in which well-born but poor Emily is struggling to keep to a certain respectable standard of living in late-19th-century London. In addition to being a rather unconventional love story, we get some insight into the state of marriage at this time and the British class sys
Nathan Albright
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge-2020
This is the sort of work where, if you have any familiarity with romance novels, you know where this is going.  Yet while a simple and basic level of enjoyment of the plot does not require a lot of thinking, this book is noteworthy at least in the way that it presents a certain set of qualities as being attractive and worthy of benign authorial providence, and it suggests at least some of the way that the author thought of herself and her own youth spent as a shabby genteel relative dependent on ...more
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great little story about being a good and selfless women. I guess there is a part two. I haven't read that. Landed this first edition copy from an old out of print bookstore I found on a recent business trip with my hubby. ...more
G.A. Wilson
Emily Fox-Seton is a well-bred but penniless woman who is employed as a personal assistant to Lady Maria Bayne. Sweet, well-intentioned and exceedingly helpful, Emily catches the eye of Lady Maria’s cousin, the Marquis of Walderhurst. Flouting the conventions of society, he marries lowly Emily, but soon afterwards travels to India on business. Emily is left behind to adapt to her challenging new role as marchioness, and to play hostess to the marquis’s cousin, Alec Osborn. This scheming rogue ha ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Who Enjoy Edwardian Fiction with One Foot Still in the Victorian World
Shelves: romance, fiction
Serialized in the British Cornhill Magazine in 1901, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Making of a Marchioness, together with its sequel, The Methods of Lady Walderhurst, were published together as Emily Fox-Seton (the name of the heroine) that same year, and seem to have been linked this way ever since. My edition of the novel, found on the shelves of my public library, is part of The Doughty Library - a Stein and Day series intended to reprint Victorian and Edwardian novels that had undeservedly f ...more
Vicki Antipodean Bookclub
“When Miss Fox-Seton descended from the two-penny ‘bus as it drew up, she gathered up her trim tailor-made skirt about her with neatness and decorum, being well used to getting in and out of twopenny ‘buses and making her way across muddy London streets.”
Making of a Marchioness is one of my three precious Persephone Books written by the author of one of my favourite childhood books The Secret Garden. It is very much a tale of two halves, the first half being a rags to riches (almost) love sto
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw a BBC moive titled, "The Making of a Lady" which was just awesome! Then I discovered that it was based on a book by Frances Hodgson Burnett the author of The Little Princess and The Secret Garden, two of my favorite childhood books. So, I immediately found it on Amazon, downloaded it in one click and started reading.

The story was different, of course, from the movie. Really the movie had the bones of the plot, but mixed it around a great deal. I liked both for different reasons. The novel
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am shocked that I had never heard of this book until just a few weeks ago. (Thank you Aunt Gayle!) What a delightful read! Previously I had only read the author's books for children, and, like many people, I didn't even know about her novels for adults until now.

The book was originally published in two parts: the first is a "Cinderella Story" of sorts, and the second is a drama/suspense/romance. It's filled with interesting characters, and moments that will make you smile and/or sigh, bite yo
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Another adult Burnett. I like the first part better, Emily looks such a nice, capable woman that could take care her own life, thank you very much. The romance (or the inexistence of it) was touching but not puke inducing. In the second part she seemed to be abandoning her self-reliance and became this adoring sugar sweet wife. I suppose this is real and valid thing to happen even now. It's so easy and comfortable to slip into it. I know I would gladly do it. It sounds as if I don't approve of s ...more
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea that the Author of "The Little Princess" and "Secret Garden" actually wrote more than this (well, correction. I knew about "Little Lord Fauntleroy" but never read it but saw some TV movie of it.) This book is WONDERFUL!! It has shades (maybe more than shades) of "Little Princess" but is for adults. The main character is one of those you know is too good to be real but makes you want to strive to be like her. I cried several times and was satisfied at that end. I will probably read ...more
Marya DeVoto
I haven't read this since I was a teenager and while the idea of a perfectly open and naturally aristocratic nature raising a woman from genteel poverty to titled riches makes the first half fairly readable, the harping on Emily's perfect normality and confiding childlike nature really cloys. The thing one likes about Mary Lennox and Sara Crewe, in her childre's books, is that they are NOT perfect paragons. I would much rather have read a book about the semi-evil Anglo-Indian wife of the heir.

Oct 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slight spoiler:

The Making of a Marchioness kind of reminds me of a fairy tale, a 19th century fairy tale. There is the handsome, nice, naive heroine, the wealthy male suitor, and the evil influences. I got a bit distracted with all the references to the goodness and the niceness of Emily and her general outlook on life (a bit too saccharine for my taste) but that aside it's a pleasant read for the most part and like a fairy tale, good triumphs over evil.
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has a real old world charm which might irritate some. But, I quite liked the easy, un agenda lead story. Yeap there are some dodgy bits but that's its age showing. And I loved the gothic twist not what you would expect from the author of children's books. I had a Persphone books copy with some excellent intros and postscripts attached - treat yourself to a vintage read complete with tea in a china cup and saucer and heaps of bread and butter, scones and jam etc. ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a light and sweet little book. It is a version of a Cinderella story, with a less romantic view. I will always love her Secret Garden and A Little Princess best, but this was a fun character story.

Re read for something light. Still a gentle character who is under appreciated until the end of next book. She is surrounded by selfish people who nevertheless love her.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
If I could mark it less than one star I would. Miss Fox-Seton is worse even than Elsie Dinsmore!
Jun 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author of famous stories for children also wrote some books for adults, but the style is much the same, somewhat sentimental, very straight-forward and easy to read. Despite the almost unbelievable good nature of the 34-year-old heroine Emily, one admires her, and cheers for her, and laughs as, without trying, she "lands" the "catch" of the day, a titled lord, a childless widower, who, in his early 50's, wants a wife but doesn't want to have to cater to her. The ever-obliging and cheerful Em ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just learned that Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote novels for adults, and decided to start with this one. I'm glad I did--it makes me want more. Emily Fox-Seton is an endearing character: innocent but not naive, optimistic in nature but realistic in her expectations, which for a "genteel" woman in her thirties did not include marriage. And then her sometime-employer, Lady Maria, invites her (employs her) to a house party in the country, where her main concern is finding a husband for her new frie ...more
Sep 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breezy sweetness at the beginning with a chipper heroine who narrowly avoids being overly Pollyanna-ish, I really did like her in the beginning. (I stopped liking her in the end, all the talk about her not being clever made me did the religious bits...& her sudden inability to do anything for herself after she had been so capable in the beginning of the book.)

This is a good book when you're feeling sad & blue, perhaps a tad under the weather, & it's raining. There's a coziness to t
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable in a 1901 kind of way. For those who loved A Little Princess, this is an grownup version. The story is Jane Eyre lite with a bit of Henry James thrown in. Apparently Burnett knew Henry James but then again, Henry knew everyone.
A good description of what it meant to be poor and a woman. Options were not good. So becoming a marchioness was a good solution.
Problematic attitude towards people of color, reflective of the times.
What a sweet modern fairy tale. Usually characters similar to Emily drive me crazy - they are too sweet and innocent - but my heart truly went out to her. I absolutely detested Mr. Osborne - what a villain! - and came to quietly adore the Marquis, just as Emily did. Quite effectively written. I could not put it down.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
Have the Persephone edition, but read this much earlier--1984!
Andrea AKA Catsos Person
NTS: Try to gong at Project Gutenberg or online somewhere.
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Frances Eliza Hodgson was the daughter of ironmonger Edwin Hodgson, who died three years after her birth, and his wife Eliza Boond. She was educated at The Select Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentleman until the age of fifteen, at which point the family ironmongery, then being run by her mother, failed, and the family emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee. Here Hodgson began to write, in order to sup ...more

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Emily Fox-Seton (2 books)
  • The Methods Of Lady Walderhurst

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“She was all in pink, and a wreath of little pink wild roses lay close about her head, making her, with her tall young slimness, look like a Botticelli nymph.” 4 likes
“I am almost ashamed to answer,' she said. 'As I have said before, Emily
Fox-Seton has become the lodestar of my existence. I cannot live without
her. She has walked over to Maundell to make sure that we do not have a
dinner-party without fish to-night.'

'She has _walked_ over to Maundell,' said Lord Walderhurst--'after

'There was not a pair of wheels left in the stable,' answered Lady
Maria. 'It is disgraceful, of course, but she is a splendid walker, and
she said she was not too tired to do it. It is the kind of thing she
ought to be given the Victoria Cross for--saving one from a dinner-party
without fish.'

The Marquis of Walderhurst took up the cord of his monocle and fixed the
glass rigidly in his eye.

'It is not only four miles to Maundell,' he remarked, staring at the
table-cloth, not at Lady Maria, 'but it is four miles back.”
More quotes…