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A fair barbarian
Frances Hodgson Burnett
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A fair barbarian

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  157 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Miss Belinda Bassett's niece arrives in a small England town. Octavia Bassett arrives from Nevada with her trunks of fancy clothes, diamond jewelry, and gold coins for the poor. She soon becomes friends with Lucia Gaston, the repressed granddaughter of the village matriarch, Lady Theobald.
Nook, 184 pages
Published by J. R. Osgood (first published 1880)
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Jun 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Cranford
Shelves: historical
A young, beautiful American heiress descends upon a tiny sleepy English town. Burnett loves gender and class stereotypes; there is nothing she likes more than to write about a lady's delicate features or a man's strong arms, and certainly every member of the lower classes is flatteringly awed by their betters. Nevertheless, the American Octavia Bassett manages to upset the usual mode just a little--when she is asked to marry a handsome, well-bred and rich Englishman, she refuses with composure. ...more
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute, but not too memorable for me. The Shuttle is my preferred Frances Hodgson Burnett novel. (I LOVE The Shuttle!) This was short, and the stakes weren't quite as high as in The Shuttle, but the theme of American vs. British manners was there, and some nice enough characters.
I have read it not so long ago. I am surprised that I haven't reviewed it then.

Now, I am after reading The Shuttle and I can tell that I like more the subtlety of this novella than educational The Shuttle (my review). Both books are about what happened when American spirit met British conventions.

This novella is funny and witty and the end is so surprising.

You haven't here a full story but it is this kind of a short stories which gives you more than you would think according to numbers of pages
As, I suspect, with most, my previous exposure to Frances Hodgson Burnett was through The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and The Lost Prince. Those books are better.
A Fair Barbarian is a harmless and mildly entertaining shift from those child-oriented books to more a young adult's realm. It's pleasantly reminiscent of Jane Austen, though less complex.

The book's strength is the characters, who are interesting and moderately likeable. However, despite a fair-size crew of young men and women loo
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
A novel about a young American woman who comes to visit her aunt in England, and the effect her unrefined candor has on the conservative inhabitants of the town. 1880.

Frances Hodgson Burnett's books seem to have a way of drawing me in very quickly, before I can even give a thought to what the book might be about. It was that way with A Lady of Quality (known under several different titles) and The Shuttle, although I have yet to finish reading the latter. A Fair Barbarian gets the action of the
Sep 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea that she wrote "adult" (and not naughty adult, mind you) books. I loved her children's books like "A Little Princess" and "A Secret Garden" to name a few. Anyway, I liked it because it was quite comical to me how she played up the strict ways of the English folks as compared to the Americans being all wild. A bunch of hooligans, are we? Anyway - the book. I really enjoyed how the American newcomer was mostly oblivious to how her mannerisms were shocking to her fellow English neighb ...more
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming novel about an American girl who grew up in western mining towns coming to visit her aunt in provincial England. Many contemporary reviewers saw this as an answer to Henry James' "Daisy Miller," which seems rather high praise given Burnett's lack of psychological realism, but it's a very fun, quick novel, and the characters are charming.
Feb 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The independent, outspoken American millionaire miner's daughter Octavia Basset causes a sensation in the sleepy, Cranford-like town of Slowbridge, England. Frances Hodgson Burnett seems to have had a special interest in American–English relations, having lived in both places.

An fairly quick and moderately entertaining read. The ending felt a bit rushed.
Jeannie Pederson
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read about a quiet little English village and a young American girl. Slowbridge gets quite the shock when Miss Octavia Bassett arrives on the scene, and the ensuing story is enjoyable and heartwarming. The characters are very believable, and I was intrigued at how well-developed they were for such a short book.

A plus for me was reading this one for free at Project Gutenburg!
Jun 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1850-1899
I love its theme; an American girl Octavia brings freshness to a dull, conservative English town and challenges its hierarchy. Gradually, the American and the British begin to accept the cultural differences and work toward mutual understanding.
Gemma Alexander
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
For anyone with the patience for Burnett's Victorian language, A Fair Barbarian is a charming read. Hidden under the layers of wardrobe lies a biting social commentary. More than a comedy of manners, Burnett wrote a scathing mockery of conformity and social control. It draws a bit from Jane Austen and foreshadows Cold Comfort Farm. One online reviewer called it a simplified retelling of Henry James' "Daisy Miller," but I can't speak to that because I haven't read it. Burnett's fair barbarian is ...more
Sanya Weathers
A Little Princess, Secret Garden - classics.

Unlike Louisa May Alcott, whose stuff you've never heard of is still largely pretty great, everything else by Ms. Burnett is dated, slapdash, or desperately in need of an editor to cut down the rambling repetitive garbage. (I'm looking at you, Emily Fox-Seton, with hundreds of descriptions of the heroine being humble, but without sufficient verbiage to actually end the damned book.)

However, if you were thinking, "gosh darn it, I've read and reread and
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up to 4

This is a cute, funny, enjoyable little tale, with a bit of a twist ending. I really like Burnett's cheerfully independent heroine. While she does have to learn to give in to social mores once and a while, she makes the big decisions on her own, and has a very definite sense of her own worth. The ending, where the supposed love interest is deservedly sent packing, made me want to say, "Hellz yeah!!" out loud.
Tara Lynn
While my usual experience with Burnett has been throug her more popular Secret Garden and a Little Princess, I was very happy to read this book for the first time on It has the same sweet characteristics that are Burnett's trademark, and give me a resolve to finish more of her work.
Gillian Kevern
Hodgson Burnett's fairy tale of wealth, fancy clothes and willfullness rewarded is much less attractive when the characters are adults. The only enjoyable part of this was the slow bloom of Octavia's English counterpart and her romance. The rest of the story rings hollow.
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read, December 2016.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little gem. Nicely written.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is clever and funny, even as it takes a very critical look at Victorian womanhood. It's perhaps a bit campy, but otherwise it's a quick and delightful read.
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
:) So much fun! It reminded me of L.M. Montgomery's writing in some ways.
Entertaining, I liked it, especially the friendship between the two girls. Strong American girl vs English countryside, 1:0 for the girl.
This early novel of Burnett's is short and sweet. I liked it more than I thought I would.
Lynda Newman
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful read!!!
Julia Croyden
Jan 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Sweet. Very much of its time though.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a deep read but a good 19C tale of love somewhat like Thakery but not so cutting
Sep 10, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing that made any of this bearable was Lucia's and Mr. Burmistone's affections. And even that was dry. Everyone's demeanor was dreadful and a lot of the time they were contradicting.
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely delightful!
Samantha Glasser
Read this book for free through Project Gutenberg:
Oct 14, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Borrow through ILL
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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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