Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Maria Bertram's Daughter by Lucy Knight
Published by Meryton Press on April 11, 2022
Genres: Historical Romance, Mystery
An unwanted child—conceived in circumstances her mother would rather forget—Dorothea Henrietta Rose grows up solitary and neglected with her dissatisfied mother and unpleasant great-aunt Norris. Raised without the knowledge that her mother is her mother or that their occasional visitor, Sir Thomas Bertram, is her grandfather, she is forbidden ever to set foot in Mansfield Park.
Dorothea hopes for a happier life when she is sent away to school, but her difficulties are not over. She is obliged to make her way in the world as a governess and, thus, encounters human frailty, hypocrisy, good, and evil in her travels throughout England.
Ever wonder what came after the ending of a Jane Austen classic? Lucy Knight, a new to me author, not only tackles this tantalizing prospect, but took the challenge of the Austen novel that many have mixed feelings about. Personally, I enjoyed Mansfield Park so I was all kinds of excited to see a rare sequel for it.
Maria Bertram’s Daughter is told from the perspective of Dorothea Rose. The book opens when Dorothea is a young girl living outside a remote village in Yorkshire. She has been told she is the orphaned poor relation of Miss Bertram and Mrs. Norris and finds herself scolded and ignored in turn. Dorothea gets a chance to be tutored alongside the local vicar’s youngest son and is a source of delight to the family and a close friend to her fellow student.
But, then Sir Thomas comes and determines she needs to be sent away to a girls’ school and she is wrenched from her home. This starts the often dreary, but interesting life adventures that lead Dorothea along life’s road into womanhood, to interesting places, and to the knowledge of her origins. Her life is rarely easy and her joyful moments from surprising friends who recognize her worth and stand by her as she does them. In the end, she goes through some heartaches, but does find her way.
Maria Bertram’s Daughter has a strong Jane Eyre flavor and comes with plenty of gothic atmosphere. Dorothea is the central focus, but the reader who is familiar with Mansfield Park gets an interesting follow up tale for those characters. Though, heads up, there are some surprise tweaks to those characters to suit this story. I don’t think a reader needs to have read or watched Mansfield Park to appreciate this story since it stands on its own just fine and the author fills in the background so the connections to the past make sense.
I loved Dorothea from the start. She was plucky and did the best she could no matter her circumstances. She had a highly intelligent mind that only a few respected, but she also had a good heart and generous nature in spite of the hurt and neglect that could have soured her. I felt so many emotions even fought back tears at one point for Dorothea.
Maria Bertram’s Daughter was bittersweet, felt true to the historic backdrop, and ultimately triumphant. I would definitely recommend it to historical fiction lovers, sweet historical romance and Jane Austen fans.
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