The Maid’s Disgrace

Written by Emma Hornby
Review by Clare Lehovsky

Manchester in the 1840s: Phoebe Parsons has been cast out onto the streets with an unfair reference. The only item of value she has is a piece of jewellery given to her by her recently deceased mistress. Her mistress’s stepson is out to ruin her and makes sure she does not find suitable employment for a woman of her means. Then she falls into company with Victor Hayes, and they manage to buy a tavern together, a secret dream that both have shared without knowing it. Together they face the ups and downs of managing a tavern while dealing with people from the past and the present. Phoebe must find out who she really is and what she really desires before she can truly be herself.

The Maid’s Disgrace is an eventful historical novel that follows the lives of people in Victorian Manchester’s slums. Each aspect of this time has clearly been researched, from running a tavern to dogs being used in the blood sport of ratting. It was interesting to learn about how they might have spoken to each other in this period while also following a well plotted story with all sorts of twists and turns. The character development is particularly good and will have you guessing until the end, as each character shows a different face. I would thoroughly recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in the Victorian era and loves a good story.