A Daughter of Fife (1886) by Amelia E. Barr ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
In this review I state a few key elements of the story, and if you are planning to read this book (I highly suggest you do!) you may want to just open up this link and dive in. I know you won’t regret it. It’s a lovely story.
This one absolutely gets 5 stars! What a beautiful story, what refreshing behavior the characters have!
This is the story about Maggie Promoter who lives in the fictional fishing village of Pittenloch, Scotland. At the beginning of the story, we find that Maggie has just lost three of her brothers and her father to the sea, when a storm went up while they were out fishing. All that is left now is Maggie and her brother David.
A strange man comes to visit the town, and rents a room in the Promoter’s house. He stays with them for many months, fishes with David, and becomes very close friends of the Promoters.
Well, David’s been wanting to go to seminary, and he had previously gone to the head preacher in a larger town to seek his education in said field, but he was told to fish in the boats for a year before attending seminary. Allan, revealing after some time that he did not want for money, offers to pay David’s way, and, the two being such good friends, David accepts.
We learn that Allan has come to this little town as a result of a disagreement with his father. It has always been his father’s dream to have Allan and his cousin, Mary, marry, and Allan does not agree, so he goes away to this town for a year, though Allan and his father’s relationship does not suffer at all. They are still in contact, he is just not living at home right now.
Well, guess what? Maggie and Allan fall in love, and Allan goes to his father to tell him. His father suggests that Allan go far away for two years without any contact with Maggie to see if he still is in love with her after all that time. Allan agrees, going to America, knowing that his love for Maggie would never dissipate. He goes back to Maggie and tells her all, and she agrees that this is the right thing to do.
Meantime, while David is at seminary and Allan is no longer there to keep company, David sends for their father’s sister, Aunt Janet, to keep Maggie company. This was a bad idea from the getgo, as Aunt Janet is a terrible gossip and nasty old biddy. After a while, Maggie can’t take living in the house with her any longer, and goes to David, pleading with him to let her stay there with him. David is kind of selfish, and he’s worried that she might bring him down or be a hindrance to his studies, so sends her right back on the train she came from. But, to our hearts music, she gets off at the first stop, gets a job in Glasgow as a seamstress, and makes a living wage there.
It just so happens that one day, Mary, Allan’s cousin who is the same cousin he was supposed to marry in the beginning, visited the seamstress and recognized Maggie right away, because she’d seen the many paintings of her that Allan had around his room that he’d painted. They never spoke one word to each other, not letting on that they knew who they were, and Mary feigns some pretense saying that she wants to take Maggie to her home to sew some things at her house for a time.
Well, Mary, just as Maggie, is a very noble, good person. She ends up taking Maggie under her wing, grooming her to be a lady, teaching her to write formally and to speak formally. This is not to say that Maggie is an Eliza Doolittle, though, as you remember, Maggie is a fisher-girl, so she spoke with a thick accent of her area.
In time, Maggie becomes her closest companion, and eventually Mary takes Maggie along on a small trip, but as luck would have it, Mary becomes severely ill with a fever. Maggie never leaves her side, and in doing so, misses her two year meeting with Allan, who comes back to the little town of Fife to find that no one knows where Maggie is, and when he visited David at his office, he knew nothing, either!
When Mary is well again, (that was a scare!) Maggie runs to Fife, though she has missed Allan by about a week.
Back at Mary’s home again, this time, but Allan had to go to Russia to be by his father’s side as he also had become ill.
Allan’s father gets well, and when they come home, he goes to dinner with Mary and his father. Who would he spot? None other than his beloved Maggie in the dining room!
A happy reunion and a wedding follows.
I loved this book, because everyone is noble and worthy of their status. Even Mary, who is jealous in the beginning, and originally wants to go and spy on Maggie while Allan is gone, does the right thing. Everyone is kind, generous, and it is refreshing that no one keeps secrets from anyone, not really. There are no misunderstandings, no cliche plots, no crass assumptions. The main characters have total trust and love in each other.
The characters are well written. Actually, the whole story is well written. I want more of Maggie Promoter!