Mistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White, Fritz Eichenberg (Illustrator) 4 out of 5 stars Delightful book!! Rereading it for the second or third time, I have enjoyed it just as much as the first time. Orphaned Maria lives in a crumbling old palace that her ancestors built on an extensive estate full of gardens and obelisks and temples and monuments. But there is no money to repair the palace, and she lives in poverty with her governess and one old cook.
When Maria is exploring around an island in a small lake, she encounters the tiny Lilliputian people who Gulliver brought back to England after his travels. They are in danger of being discovered by Maria’s evil guardians, the vicar and governess, and Maria must use all her ingenuity to save them from being kidnapped and sold as slaves.
I love how imaginative this book is. My favorite parts are the scenes that describe how the Lilliputians make their living on the Mistress Masham’s Repose island. They fish, and hunt, and train mice as their horses. They have their little homes in the roofs and hollow pillars of the Repose cupola, and keep their tiny farm animals in stables built into the steps of the structure.
This book is a continuation of Charlotte Bronte’s last writing before she died. She only finished the first two chapters of this book, and it has been finished by “another lady”. I am usually skeptical about modern authors trying to finish work from a classic author, but this was well done.
The writing doesn’t exactly mimic Charlotte Bronte’s writing style, but it does a fair job. The themes and plot have many elements that I would expect to find in a Bronte story. There is a gothic moodiness, plot twists, wild scenery, and of course, complex and compelling characters.
Mrs. Chalfont is a lonely widow who adopts an abandoned child and tries to penetrate the mystery of the child’s true identity. With the help of Mr. Ellin, she embarks on a journey of discovery and intrigue to unravel the secrets the child is hiding. It is only when the ruthless Emma appears on the scene that the depths of crime and hatred become apparent, and only Mrs. Chalfont can save the innocent child she has come to love.
I loved the story so much! I was laughing and crying and clutching the book to my heart! The emotional power in the story is very reminiscent of Charlotte Bronte’s style.
Caroline and Shirley are dear friends, but their friendship is tested when they both appear to have fallen in love with the same man. They never speak of it, but they each suffer alone with their hearts in anguish until the truth can be known. Robert Moore, a mill owner, is threatened by his ex-employees when he brings in new machinery to replace their jobs. A riot ensues and the mill is attacked. Robert must act swiftly and decidedly to save his business in the face of violence, but he leaves no room in his heart to show compassion to the poor. He struggles to find a balance between charity and justice.