Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Published on: January 8, 2013
Page Count: 464
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: ARC given to me at BEA
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Henrietta Ingerton grows up an orphan, living on the kindness of her noble uncle and his family. She was raised and educated with her cousin so that one day, after her cousin has made a great match, she can live with her as a spinster companion. While Henrietta herself is attractive, her utter lack of fortune makes her own marriage prospects very poor. Had tragedy not struck and a cloud of suspicion surrounded her, Henrietta would have been content with her fate as she never was given cause to consider any other kind of life. Instead, she is forced to flee her uncle’s estate and do what few 17 year old girls raised in British society would ever imagine – take her life and identity into her own hands. What Henrietta finds is that a young woman without a protector has a rough road ahead of her. The choices she makes, including taking on the name Henrietta Lightfoot, lead her into scandalous company and situations. She has to make many sacrifices to fight for a future of her own making.
Mistress of My Fate, the first of three novels chronicling the life of Henrietta Lightfoot, opens with an older Henrietta explaining her reasoning for writing her memoirs. Her living cousins spread all sorts of vile gossip about her and she wanted to let her readers know first hand who she was and how and why she led the life that she did. While I think that Henrietta took more delight looking back upon her youth and the decline in her reputation than she might like to admit, I was smitten with Henrietta right off the bat. The situation of her childhood reminded me very much of Fanny Price, but I knew that her sweet innocence would not last. The older and wiser Henrietta would interject into her story when she felt it necessary throughout, giving the novel a conversational feel that worked well for me. Who doesn’t like to be taken into another person’s confidence, especially when juicy gossip is involved?
I was in a pretty heavy reading slump when I picked this book up off my shelf. I didn’t finish three of the five books I started before it. I sped through the first half to two thirds of of this nearly 475 page book, devouring Henrietta’s story. It did slow down for me somewhat towards the end because Henrietta’s troubles seemed to feel repetitive. Even then I didn’t want to put the book down. I loved Henrietta’s adventures within the London’s demimonde, a place that has been held at arm’s length or disparaged by the disgruntled wives in much of the British historical fiction I’ve read. It was a nice change of pace from royalty, although they do make an appearance. I feel like in Hallie Rubenhold I’ve found a new gem of historical fiction. Even during the slower sections I knew I wanted more of Henrietta’s story. Rubenhold writes a compelling story with exquisite detail. I would highly recommend this novel for those who love historical fiction.