REVIEW: Clarissa and the Poor Relations by Alicia Cameron
In Regency England Mrs Thorne’s School for Young Ladies is about to close due to the death of young Clarissa’s mother a year ago.This leaves eighteen-year-old Clarissa Thorne and her three school mistress friends no option but to return to the bosom of their families as despised ‘poor relations’ – at everyone’s beck and call for all their lives.
But Clarissa has just inherited Ashcroft , a large crumbling estate, and she offers her companions an escape – run away with her to a life of independence and adventure. They must put the estate to rights with little money and less experience. Can sensible Miss Micklethwaite, aging romantic Miss Appleby and the beautiful Miss Oriana Petersham escape their fate? To keep the vivacious, impulsive Clarissa in check they must at least try.
However, their relatives may have other plans.
Meeting the Earl of Grandiston and his companion (a devotee of the divine Oriana) on the road sets hilarious events in motion. Perhaps to adventure the ladies must add romance…
Dear Ms. Cameron,
This is the second book of yours I’ve read. “Clarissa and the Poor Relations” is a frothy category length story of four women standing up for themselves in a world in which women had little actual power or control. Though it does take a little help from some men in their lives, all four plus one more manage to find a permanent place and happiness by the end.
Clarissa, the daughter of a gentleman with progressive ideas about the education of women who married the daughter of a viscount, and her friends are facing a future without the school that has sustained them up until then. After the deaths of her parents, young eighteen year old Clarissa can’t hope to keep the school open. It’s then that her wastrel cousin dies and with no entail on the estate, Clarissa inherits. But the place has been neglected for years and Clarissa’s half brother from her father’s first marriage, is making noises about Clarissa coming to live with him and his wife – after he’s sold Clarissa’s property. As her guardian, John can almost do as he pleases and his encroaching mushroom of a wife sees money flowing into their household plus Clarissa acting as an unpaid drudge.
But the women have a plan and execute it with lightning speed, moving to Ashcroft and beginning repairs before John realizes it. Still, it won’t be long before he’ll probably show up and demand Clarissa move home with him. With years to go before she reaches her majority, they need another plan and in this they’re helped by an older friend of Oriana, who has loved her for years, plus a ton gentleman at loose ends. Meanwhile, Clarissa and the estate agent who has worked tirelessly to try and save Ashcroft are desperately in love but feel themselves separated by means – she’s got some while he doesn’t and won’t be thought a fortune hunter.
Can all the couples sort themselves out romantically plus thwart John and his social climbing wife?
There are quite a few balls to keep in the air in this book. Several couples must be matched up while Clarissa’s brother and his wife must be kept at bay before they upend all the improvements Clarissa has managed to achieve as well as aggravate the staff. It’s a short book so things are kept fairly brisk and the pace doesn’t slacken which I liked. There isn’t an overload of cant though the word “snazzy” stood out as anachronistic. Overall this is a fast, humorous story. The game plan that the plotters devise gets tricky but they manage to pull it off. Still it takes a teensy deus ex machina to achieve Clarissa’s happiness. B