Monday, December 5, 2011

Margaret's Story by Marjorie Douglas

This book was recommended--and loaned--to me by my lovely friend Fiona. I sat down to begin reading it and before I knew it I has halfway through the book and almost completely through the afternoon.

Margaret Disbrowe is a lady of leisure approaching her twenty-first birthday. She realises how frivolous and irreligious she is beside her best friend Phyllis, who spends her time in ministering to her family and the people of the parish, but isn't quite sure where to begin, even if she wished for, improvement. Then a terrible blow falls. Margaret's mother falls ill and a terrible secret is revealed--a secret which sends Margaret out into the world alone, with no family, no friends, and no means of support. Eventually she is able to find a position as a parlourmaid with a kind mistress, but her life is saddened by her separation from her family and the disapproval of her mistress's nephew, who seems to threaten the only security she has in the world. As she faces difficulty and sorrow, Margaret learns to cling to the only real security in life--our Lord.

This book, originally published sometime in the 1920s, is a wonderful, sweet, and gentle coming-of-age story. I enjoyed the heroine's sweet narrative voice and while I don't generally approve of preachy passages in books, this was mostly unobtrusive and profound enough not to come across as simple platitude. Meanwhile the plot was mostly credible and very enjoyable. Margaret's journey from frivolity to real usefulness and concern for others is the main stuff of the plot, but there was also an understated romance that reminded me a little of the one in Emma.

If my life was a novel, chances are it would look rather similar to Margaret's Story. I thoroughly enjoyed it, felt a lot in common with the heroine, and would recommend it to anyone.

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