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A Fair Barbarian

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Book Overview: 

The setting is a small English village in the 19th century. When her niece shows up on her doorstep unexpectedly, a quiet spinster finds her life turned upside down.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .He did not attempt to avoid her ladyship's rather stern eye, as he made his cool reply.

"Well, yes," he said. "I beg pardon, but it is accidental, rather."

Lucia gave him a pretty, frightened look, as if she felt that, after such an audacious confession, something very serious must happen; but nothing serious happened at all. Singularly enough, it was Lady Theobald herself who looked ill at ease, and as though she had not been prepared for such a contingency.

During the whole of the evening, in fact, it was always Lady Theobald who was placed at a disadvantage, Lucia discovered. She could hardly realize the fact at first; but before an hour had passed, its truth was forced upon her.

Capt. Barold was a very striking-looking man, upon the whole. He was large, gracefully built, and fair: his eyes were gray, and noticeable for the coldness of their expression, his features regular and aqui. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The independent, outspoken American millionaire miner's daughter Octavia Basset causes a sensation in the sleepy, Cranford-like town of Slowbridge, England. Frances Hodgson Burnett seems to have had a special interest in American–English relations, having lived in both places.

An fairly quick and mod

A novel about a young American woman who comes to visit her aunt in England, and the effect her unrefined candor has on the conservative inhabitants of the town. 1880.

Frances Hodgson Burnett's books seem to have a way of drawing me in very quickly, before I can even give a thought to what the book m

As, I suspect, with most, my previous exposure to Frances Hodgson Burnett was through The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and The Lost Prince. Those books are better.
A Fair Barbarian is a harmless and mildly entertaining shift from those child-oriented books to more a young adult's realm. It's ple

I love its theme; an American girl Octavia brings freshness to a dull, conservative English town and challenges its hierarchy. Gradually, the American and the British begin to accept the cultural differences and work toward mutual understanding.

A charming novel about an American girl who grew up in western mining towns coming to visit her aunt in provincial England. Many contemporary reviewers saw this as an answer to Henry James' "Daisy Miller," which seems rather high praise given Burnett's lack of psychological realism, but it's a very

I had no idea that she wrote "adult" (and not naughty adult, mind you) books. I loved her children's books like "A Little Princess" and "A Secret Garden" to name a few. Anyway, I liked it because it was quite comical to me how she played up the strict ways of the English folks as compared to the Ame

A young, beautiful American heiress descends upon a tiny sleepy English town. Burnett loves gender and class stereotypes; there is nothing she likes more than to write about a lady's delicate features or a man's strong arms, and certainly every member of the lower classes is flatteringly awed by the

Cute, but not too memorable for me. The Shuttle is my preferred Frances Hodgson Burnett novel. (I LOVE The Shuttle!) This was short, and the stakes weren't quite as high as in The Shuttle, but the theme of American vs. British manners was there, and some nice enough characters.

I have read it not so long ago. I am surprised that I haven't reviewed it then.

Now, I am after reading The Shuttle and I can tell that I like more the subtlety of this novella than educational The Shuttle (my review). Both books are about what happened when American spirit met British conventions.


A fun read about a quiet little English village and a young American girl. Slowbridge gets quite the shock when Miss Octavia Bassett arrives on the scene, and the ensuing story is enjoyable and heartwarming. The characters are very believable, and I was intrigued at how well-developed they were for

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