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Life is not easy for the poor relations of England’s upper crust, but fate and clever schemes bring them together. Lady Fortescue and Colonel Sandhurst hatch a plan: What if they were to transform her decrepit Bond Street home into a posh hotel, offering their guests the pleasure of being waited upon by nobility? With the help of other down-and-out aristocrats, they do just that, and London’s newest hotel, The Poor Relation, is born.
The establishment is an immediate hit with London’s most illustrious citizens, save the Duke of Rowcester, Lady Fortescue’s nephew. Rowcester believes that his aunt’s entry into the trade will denigrate their family name and is determined to shut the hotel down - until he meets Miss Harriett James, the lovely young woman who accepts Lady Fortescue’s offer to become The Poor Relation’s chef after the death of her parents and the loss of her fortune. Rowcester moves into The Poor Relation for the season - ostensibly to keep an eye on his aunt’s business.
Set in Regency London it has the trials and tribulations of a group of high and upper class impoverished aristocrats who band together to open a hotel. Some of the characters are oddly appealing, some (Sir Philip) is oddly appalling. There is a romance, but a great deal of time is spent on the other characters, such as the marvellous septuagenarian Lady Fortescue.
On the surface frothy fun, but serious issues often simmer to the top, such as the fate of unmarried impoverished women, or the scenes at Newgate.
This is a Marion Chesney Story (I had to google to see who this MC Beaton was). Good clean fun. If you like Georgette Heyer you will enjoy this book which again shows close attention to historical detail (without it intruding in the flow of the novel)
27 of 27 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Lady Fortescue Steps Out again? Why?
Probably not--once was enough.
What did you like best about this story?
It had a charm to it--and promoted ideas that people who are traditionally unseen in society (the old, the poor, etc) have truly creative ways to make their lives "work" (for one thing), but even beyond that, to "work" in ways that are outside the box, so to speak, because to survive they must think that way. The characters each had very well-drawn out personalities, and each was certainly a part of the whole--the idea that together they would do okay--but individually, they might not have, meant that the author had to be certain that each person was made real enough that the reader could see how they each contributed something that brought them all a new way of being safe and even having dignity in life.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Any additional comments?
It was charming, my mother and grandmother would have loved it--especially my grandmother who had always loved Dickens--it has a slight hint of that in its story. I liked it, but felt it lacked a little something that all through it I was unable to give a name to. I might listen to another in the series, but I haven't decided yet. I do believe the characters have room to grow and become even more interesting in the future. What I DO believe--and definitely would pay attention to, however, and oddly perhaps--since this is all about books--is that it would make a delightful TV series (possibly a movie). I found myself being quite visually engaged in my mind--seeing a lot of this more than I often do in books.
22 of 22 people found this review helpful
If you're looking for a sanitized, glittering romance with billows of lace and languishing glances, this is probably not your cup of oolong. Written under the pseudonym Marian Chesney, this is M.C. Beaton's first Regency novel. But a Regency novel with a distinct difference! Yes, there is the deserving but impoverished young lady and the rich, supercilious lord to carry the love interest, but Georgette Heyer this is not. The real focus is on a group of "poor relations" who pool their meager resources to survive. And Beaton doesn't gloss over the unromantic elements of life in London during the Regency: the smells, the dirt, the disease, and the oddities of the time that 21st-century folks find perversely fascinating, such as dentures made from dead soldiers' teeth. The central characters are not stereotypes, but they are at times anachronistic in their enterprise and lack of conventionality. Which was all OK with me. I will read the rest of the "poor relations" series as I found it highly enjoyable. And Davina Porter, as always, is magnificent.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this little story well enough. I like M. C. Beaton - well some of Beaton anyway and this first book in the Poor Relation series was gently and genteelly amusing. I can listen to Davina Porter recite a phone book, so my enjoyment may have been in part due to her skill.
The plot is a bit predictable, but the buildup is handled well and the characters have some depth, although not as much as I would have liked. I haven't decided if I'll continue with this series.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
The first four volumes of this light and humorous series were perfect for some fatigued time listening, but Beaton/Chesney could have knitted together one excellent novel from the first three instalments ??? one that could have equalled a Heyer classic. I do like intelligent braincandy, but I prefer my fluff thicker!
This series is similar in style to the author's Lady Rose mysteries, even though Poor Relation is more Heyerite romance; the series may not appeal to fans of Beaton's Hamish McBeth or Agatha Raisin mysteries. I thought Poor Relation much richer than the Daughters of Mannerling series, which they also resemble with a continuing storyline.
I think the best in series (of the first four now on Audible) is v 1; you can listen to any independent of the others, however, should you catch a sale because there is enough backstory in each to get the history of the hotel and its proprietors.
Porter is as usual excellent, and do I detect an extra bit of love in her voice for this series and Lady Rose's exploits?
45 of 48 people found this review helpful
This is a heartwarming historical romance with some fluffy fun and adventure thrown in. The characters are endearing and the narration brought them to life. I got this one on sale so it was definitely worth the cost. I'm glad I gave it a try.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful
Where does Lady Fortescue Steps Out rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
The series is a fun read. This is book 1 and in this book Lady Fortescue, widowed and alone save for two loyal, unpaid servants, has sold off almost all of the furnishings in her large Bond Street home and faces a grim future. To the rescue comes Colonel Sandhurst - and many other impoverished aristocrats. The characters are likeable and well developed.<br/>The book shines the light on real problems during those days, many historic facts and some funny happenings.
Who was your favorite character and why?
In book 1 my favorite character was Colonel Sandhurst as he compliments the more opinionated Lady Fortescue.
What does Davina Porter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Ms. Porter just knows how to read, act, and draw you in - she is superb.<br/>
Any additional comments?
I would highly recommend this series IF books are on sale - a credit better reserved for something a bit more deep and longer in audio hours. But overall I would recommend the book(s).
20 of 22 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
All historical romances are very predictable if not a drama so this book is the same. However, I liked the story and its development. I would have like more intimacy but that’s just a personal preference and nothing against the book. The plot was not as predictable at all when it comes to the misdeed happening in the story. Usually I can tell who the villain is but I could not here. A listen well worth the credit
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
It's like a cross between a sitcom and a costume drama (though I can't say I got a lot of period flavor in this "Regency" story--the historic details felt more like sci-fi, as if these characters were living in a parallel universe). Oh, and some romance novel thrown in, too. This may sound like a terrible combination, but the writing is clever, and Davina Porter's performance is superlative: overall, great fun. My one disappointment is that I had been looking forward to seeing how M.C. resolved some of the situations she'd set up (what happens to the forged necklace? what was the origin of the mysterious fire?) but apparently she was saving the answers for the next volume of the six-volume series.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
I found it a pleasant distraction while driving, with droll humor and good narration. Short, a good choice as a "palate cleanser", so to speak, between the longer audio books I usually choose.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful