Monday 8 August 2016

Rebecca Stubbs: The Vicar's Daughter

Last week, I ordered Rebecca Stubbs: The Vicar's Daughter by Hannah Buckland. I wasn't quite sure whether this would be for a present or as one of the suggested books for one of the older girls at the book club but the blurb was enough to make me want to read the book. Sometimes, checking the suitability of books is a pleasant task!

This book is set in the mid-nineteenth century in Kent and East Sussex. Rebecca Stubbs is the only daughter of an Evangelical vicar and his wife but finds herself orphaned at the age of seventeen. She wants to be independent but doesn't want to be a governess so goes into service as a housemaid. This is very different from Rebecca's previous life. She learns about the rigid societal structure in a Victorian large house. Even the housemaid giving help to the scullery maid is frowned upon. Rebecca is a Christian but finds that there are challenges in her new life from the conversation around her; man made rules and just the difficulty of finding time to pray. 

Rebecca's life is lightened by a new friendship which ultimately leads to promotion. Will this lead to her happiness and how will she manage in a new village where the preaching is less than encouraging? Will the way that Victorian society is structured with rigid divides between the classes, get in the way of Rebecca's happiness?

I'm not going to give spoilers but will say that my initial thought was that this book was an enjoyable read but that the plot was going to be predictable. I'm glad to say that I had to revise my opinion of the latter.

The author brings out Rebecca's spiritual struggles clearly and realistically. 

Is the rest of the book realistic? I'm no historian but there were one or two items that made me wonder. Would a vicar's daughter have really ended up in service even if she didn't want to be a governess? Rebecca had a new spring dress  for her interview. Maybe it was a mourning dress but there is no mention of this but my understanding was that mourning would have been worn for a year and would have been recognised as such. On the other hand, Hannah Buckland obviously knows the Kent/Sussex area well. Having been brought up in Kent, I appreciated this aspect of the story. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would give it 4*. It is suitable for teenagers as well as adults. Now, I have to decide whether to keep the copy and use it for the book club or give it as a present. Rebecca Stubbs: The Vicar's Daughter is available from The Christian Bookshop Ossett.

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds like our eldest daughter would like it. Thank you for the review, as I am always looking for wholesome books for her!