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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

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

This is a quick, easy, light, and funny romance / comedy of manners from Frances Hodgson Burnett, the famed author of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. She also wrote a lot more books including novels for adults, of which this is a superior example. When Octavia shows up unexpectedly on her a

This book is an obscure classic and undeservedly so, for it is humorous, entertaining and contains some keen observations of character and society, which Frances Hodgson Burnett is so good at.

There is the very genteel, rather small and utterly English country town of Slowbridge where everything is d

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.


For anyone with the patience for Burnett's Victorian language, A Fair Barbarian is a charming read. Hidden under the layers of wardrobe lies a biting social commentary. More than a comedy of manners, Burnett wrote a scathing mockery of conformity and social control. It draws a bit from Jane Austen a

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