Rose of Nancemellin


At the heart of this entertaining upstairs-downstairs tale is an effervescent, energetic working-class heroine who accepts her place in the world but is nonetheless determined to make the most of it. During her employers’ absence from their Cornwall estate, while dressed in her mistress’s new finery, young Rose nurses a half-drowned yachtsman fished from the sea. Aided by her fellow domestics, she claims to be her ladyship’s niece, and soon she and the stranger are giddy with love. Despite exposure as a fraud and dismissal from the household, she retains her sweetheart’s affections.

Financial reverses and class differences force their parting. Rose is unwilling to marry until Louis has salvaged his fortunes, lest he regret his promises to a girl of her humble background. When he travels to America to invest in a brewery, Rose remains in Cornwall to work and plan a future with the man she loves. In the aftermath of her near-seduction by the predatory Roger Deveril, she accepts the lowly job of prompter in a Cornish theatrical company. Her innovative promotions along the provincial circuit succeed, and her acting talent propels her to leading lady of the troupe. In due course, Rose debuts on the London stage. A trip to America and the intervention of World War I all affect Rose’s ultimate personal and professional choices.

Strong characterizations, historical richness, and an abundance of lively, clever dialogue are Macdonald hallmarks.




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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award







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