Another free ebook from the Kindle shop, "Dora Deane" was not always quite what I had expected.
This novel was first published in 1859, written by Mary Jane Holmes whose short biography you can read here. Isn't it funny how all of these authors I've never heard about before are said to have been bestselling in their days? Without the kindle shop and its many free editions of old books, I'd never have known about most of the writers I have been mentioning here on my blog.
Dora Deane, orphaned at the age of twelve, is grudgingly taken in by her aunt; on the surface, as a family member, but reality soon shows that she makes a very convenient servant, especially for her cousin Eugenia, who has high ambitions.
These ambitions lead Eugenia to plot and deceive, all in view of the coveted prize: To one day be Lady of the Manor at Rose Hill, the Big House in the small town where the Deanes live in comparative poverty.
Dora does not suspect anything until years later, and without complaint does all the menial tasks set on her, although she'd much rather go to school, having developed a fondness for books and learning.
How the owners of Rose Hill get to meet Dora, resulting in an improbable friendship and, eventually, her finding love and happiness, is told over the course of several years. Everyone gets their reward in the end - there is some moralising in this book, but it is more out of a deep sense of justice than the overly pious attitude of Charlotte M. Yonge, making for a read not unpleasant, and not without its moments of tension (especially when Eugenia is about to find out that she has been found out).
Places and people are described clearly enough for a good mental picture without dwelling too much on every little detail of ladies' hairstyles and attire. Several times, I had been expecting something else to happen, but the overall outcome was not surprising.
Neither particularly recommending this book nor advising against it, I found this a relatively pleasant read, not overly challenging - and not too long :-)