The Colonial Countess

by Robin Bell

"Listening to her confirmed…that their young Countess had a mind of her own, and was prepared to flout some of the traditional standards."

When eighteen-year-old Mary Evans arrives from Australia to England in 1886, she discovers she has inherited the title of Countess from her estranged aristocratic grandmother. Apparently, the title has passed on to Mary after the consecutive deaths of Mary’s grandmother and mother. Shocked at the sudden revelation of her aristocratic background, Mary is completely unprepared for the responsibilities that her new role brings for her. As she slowly settles into her new life at Longmire Hall, different situations and individuals prepare her to become the beloved and respected Countess, known for her generosity, boldness, and business acumen.

Bell crafts an enchanting story about the transformation of a simple girl into the dignified Countess. Using Mary’s experiences with her staff, tenants, and the elite, Bell highlights how a kind-hearted girl uses her title and power to help people and make necessary changes that were rare in that period. Some of the changes include improving the living conditions of the staff, reopening the village school, resolution of rent hikes for tenants, increased involvement in Estate management, and ensuring better conditions at the Workhouse. Unlike most arrogant aristocrats of that time, Mary is valued for her pleasant demeanor, which allows people to easily approach her with problems. The Countess is guided by the wisdom and friendship of equally likable and caring characters like Mr. Lyons, the Solicitor, his wife, Celia Lyons, Mrs. Smith, Tess Telford, and Hugh.

Mary’s decisions to assume guardianship of two ill-treated boys, Jack and Alfie, and to bring corrupt, abusive men to justice make her a strong protagonist. Bell’s sharp, spontaneous writing effectively captures all phases of Mary’s journey, while focusing on the flaws of the society. Powerful and uninhibited, this story beautifully upholds the unbreakable spirit of the feminine, uniting individuals through compassion rather than social ranks.

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