The Mantua Maker’s Beau
Clementina, a delightfully resilient, resourceful and realistic orphan who has made the most of her good fortune and forswears moaning and despair when handed the bad, follows her benefactor’s nephew to the American colonies to persuade him to honor his aunt’s will and give her the shop in Bath that she has managed since her patron died. A mantua, for those who like to know these historical details, was a one-piece garment originally open at the front, worn over a petticoat that was fitted to each person with darts. At this point in history, that had been the prevailing fashion, and the mantua-maker was then, of course, our modern dressmaker. Because the setting is just before the American Revolution, the social differences between the colonies and the mother country provide a great deal of the interest in this novel. The sequences set in England are most diverting. Once on the shores of America, the romance takes center stage, with enough unpredictable twists to keep the reader guessing.