Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Mistress of My Fate (The Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot) by Hallie Rubenhold - Book Review
About the Book:
Set during a period of revolution and turmoil, Mistress of My Fate is the first book in a trilogy about Henrietta Lightfoot, a young woman who was abandoned as a baby and raised alongside her cousins, noble children of a lord and lady. At just sixteen years old, circumstance and a passionate love affair tear Henrietta away from everything she knows, leading to a new life fending for herself on the streets of 18th century London as a courtesan, gambler, and spirited intellect of the city.
About the Author:
Hallie Rubenhold is an historian and broadcaster and an authority on British eighteenth-century social history. She has written two works of non-fiction to critical acclaim: The Convent Garden Ladies and Lady Worsley's Whim: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce. In addition to writing books, articles and reviews, Hallie regularly appears on TV in the UK as an expert contributor to documentaries. Hallie lives in London with her husband.
Mistress of My Fate is written as a confessional memoir by Miss Henrietta (Ingerton) Lightfoot as she tries to set straight the rumors swirling about her and her actions. The book is written in the first person so you almost feel as if you are sitting with Ms. Lightfoot, sipping a cup of tea and listening to her tell you her sometimes sordid story. But what was a young girl to do? It was a time period when women had no rights, they had no way of making a place in the world without the protection of a family name or a husband. Miss Lightfoot was brought up in a noble household but as the child of a second son, long dead she had no prospects for a good marriage and is being groomed to be a lady in waiting to her cousin. Her cousin is a rather spoiled, unpleasant woman and used people only when she thinks they can serve her needs.
While on vacation in Bath both girls meet a young man and unfortunately they both fall in love. He too falls in love but societal demands and the needs of his estate cause him to pursue Henrietta's cousin while making plans to have all three of them live together. They think that this is better than never seeing each other again. But alas, it is not to be and a series of revelations and circumstances cause Henrietta to feel she must flee the only home she has ever known.
But as she writes in her book - there are no instructions for a young girl out on her own. She barely knows how to dress herself let alone how to get along in the world. She soon finds out that nothing is free and it takes her many hard lessons to effectively learn how to survive.
This is the first of three books detailing Ms. Lightfoot's life and loves and I can say that I'll be very much looking forward to the next installments. I found myself drawn into this very sad tale of a young girl who was quite wronged by people who should have cared for her. She was very naive as she ran away from home and despite many chances for her to learn from mistakes or from people trying to help her she, like most young people, thought she knew best. It was hard at times to read of her stupidity and not want to slap her face to wake her up! As I have written - I love a book that engenders that kind of emotion. (So far this year has been a good one for books - I hope it continues!) It takes Henrietta a while to figure out that she has to start thinking for herself and that sometimes she does need to listen to those that have come before and once she does a stronger woman emerges.
The book ends with lots and lots of questions that need answering. That bodes well for the next installment. Ms. Rubenhold brings the time period to life with all the grit and danger of a woman with nowhere to turn and nothing to use but her wits and her body to survive. France is about to explode into war and it is impacting the lives of the people in Henrietta's life and that sense of impending trouble underlies the story. The characters so far introduced are well developed and with our heroine you know that there is a lot more to know about her and her love to come in the next volumes. It's not going to be all sunshine and roses for these two, not at all. But I can't wait to see how it all plays out.
There are giveaways for Mistress of My Fate available at:
Just Another New Blog (US/Canada only)
Freda's Voice (US only)
You can purchase Mistress of My Fate on Amazon.com
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Mistress of My Fate from the publisher for my honest opinion. No compensation was paid for my review.