Set in the same time period of writing as Jane Austen The Girl in the Gatehouse is about Mariah Aubrey, a young girl who has been sent out of her parents’ home in disgrace.
Mariah is sent away to live with her aunt. She and her former governess Miss Dixon set up house in the gatehouse of the estate. Shortly after her arrival at the gatehouse her aunt Mrs. Prin-Hallsey passes away. Upon her passing, her step-son takes over the household. He immediately lets the house out to Captain Bryant. He also demands that Mariah start paying rent to live in the gatehouse.
In order to earn money to supplement the small sum that her father has sent her away with Mariah decides to try and publish a novel that she has written. Knowing that novels by young women are not well received and guarding her already poor reputation she wants to publish her book anonymously.
Captain Bryant is trying to win over the woman that refused his pursuit years before. He plans on hosting a house party to try and prove to the young woman that he is worthy of her affections. What he doesn’t count on is the trouble and embarrassment that the house party will bring to Mariah.
Mariah takes an interest in the inhabitants of the poorhouse across the road from the gatehouse. A man that wanders the roof of the house captures her attention. She is sure that he is being held against his will. She doesn’t understand why nobody in the house will talk about him.
In matters of faith Mariah knows that God can forgive. She just doesn’t believe he can forgive her or that she can forgive herself.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I love the time-period of the book. And I especially love the “Happily Ever After” at the end.
1. Mariah’s situation (sent away after an indiscretion to live in relative isolation) was loosely based on the fate of one of Jane Austen’s characters in Mansfield Park (although Maria Bertram was a married woman who had an affair). Did you think Mariah Aubrey’s father treated her unfairly? How have attitudes toward “virtue and vice” changed since the early 1800s?
The thing that seemed unfair to me was that the man involved had no consequences for his actions. Mariah was sent away in disgrace by her father because he was embarrassed by her behavior. The man involved though was still able to go around in society as if nothing ever happened. As for the second part of the question “virtue and vice” have very much changed since the 1800’s. Where once it was an honor and expectation for a woman to guard her “maiden-ness” today promiscuity is flaunted and expected.
2. Go back and read the first two words and the last two words of the book. Any thoughts on why the author may have chosen them?
The book begins with the two words “The end” and the story ends with the two words “The beginning” I think that the significance of the way the author did that was that when we are lost in our sin or think that God cannot forgive us as Mariah thought we think that it is “the end” . Mariah felt that being banished was the end of her life as she knew it (and she was right). She believed Satan’s lie though that even though she knew in her head that God forgives she couldn’t understand how he could forgive HER. She also couldn’t forgive herself. She learned though that even though there are consequences to our actions that God truly does forgive and wants to still bless us. Once she was able to believe God’s forgiveness of her and see his blessing of a new life that was when she was able to experience “the beginning” of a new life.
3. Did you find yourself growing fond of any character that you did not care for at the outset? Which character was your favorite? Why?
At first I did not care for Martin. He seemed crusty and stinky and resentful. But throughout the story he grew on me. He spoke his mind yes, but he didn’t do it out of meanness. He became like one of those loveable crusty type of people. By the end I was hoping that he would be the one that Dixon chose to marry.