Maiden’s Hap (2019) by Carolyn Hughes is a fantastic short read.
The novella is a Meonbridge Chronicles story and follows Eleanor whose mother dies during birth at the beginning of the story. After her mother’s passing, she begins to keep the household running and is a huge source of help to her father. She loves the country life and looking after the sheep but also would one day like to marry a man and become a mother. Her father remarries and she hasn’t a fantastic relationship with her new stepmother. In the meantime her father decides he has neglected finding a suitor for Eleanor for too long and decides to put her needs before his after not doing so while he was caught up in the joys he was in with her stepmother. But will the man her father chooses be a good fit for Eleanor?
I think for such a short read the author really does help the reader to get to know many of the characters. Betha is an older employee in the house who features prominently and is clearly a huge source of support for Eleanor. For the most part the two are very likeable though I have to say there was a bit of snobbery towards Eleanor’s stepmother while she was making advances towards Eleanor’s father which showed quite an ugly flaw in their personalities. I was glad the author included this though because it showed the class and social status discrimination which often goes on in the world. Not that I was mad about the stepmother. She is my least favourite character in the book but fair where fair is due. She is quite controlling it seems and manipulative and I wouldn’t blame Eleanor wishing to get away from home after her arrival. I like most of the characters though but I think my favourite is the shepherd Walter. He seems so easy-going and down-to-earth and seems really good with the sheep. He seemed really nice. I also really liked the cook. He seem really interesting and had a lot about him.
There was many interesting elements the author brought into the story fleetingly but which were good to see there. Things like how Eleanor seems a bit self-conscious about how she looks which a lot of people feel, how Eleanor is not an expert on sex which not everyone is and the peer pressure she faces for wishing to remain in certain situations with her father instead of her friends. These are situations which happen a lot to people and therefore will be relatable to a lot of readers which will hopefully make them feel less alone and not weird because they aren’t weird at all.
An excellent read.
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