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Her Heart for a Compass

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From one of the most famous former members of the British royal family, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York —a mesmerizing novel of a young noblewoman’s coming-of-age that richly details both high society and low in Victorian England. Queen Victoria’s close friend, the Scottish Duke of Buccleuch, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is expected to make an advantageous marriage. But Marg From one of the most famous former members of the British royal family, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York —a mesmerizing novel of a young noblewoman’s coming-of-age that richly details both high society and low in Victorian England. Queen Victoria’s close friend, the Scottish Duke of Buccleuch, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is expected to make an advantageous marriage. But Margaret is an impulsive and outspoken girl in a repressive society where women are, quite literally, caged in corsets and required to conform. When Lady Margaret’s parents arrange a society marriage for her, she tries to reconcile herself to the match. But shortly before her betrothal is announced, Margaret flees, leaving her parents to explain her sudden absence to an opulent ballroom stuffed with two hundred distinguished guests. Banished from polite society, Margaret throws herself into charitable work and finds strength in a circle of female friends like herself—women intent on breaking the mold, including Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise. Margaret resolves to follow her heart—a journey of self-discovery that will take her to Ireland, America, and then back to Britain where she finds the life she was always meant to lead. A bold and thoughtful story about a rebellious woman finding herself and her voice in an age of astounding technological change and great social unrest, Her Heart for a Compass is a delicious costume drama rich in atmosphere, history, and color.


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From one of the most famous former members of the British royal family, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York —a mesmerizing novel of a young noblewoman’s coming-of-age that richly details both high society and low in Victorian England. Queen Victoria’s close friend, the Scottish Duke of Buccleuch, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is expected to make an advantageous marriage. But Marg From one of the most famous former members of the British royal family, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York —a mesmerizing novel of a young noblewoman’s coming-of-age that richly details both high society and low in Victorian England. Queen Victoria’s close friend, the Scottish Duke of Buccleuch, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is expected to make an advantageous marriage. But Margaret is an impulsive and outspoken girl in a repressive society where women are, quite literally, caged in corsets and required to conform. When Lady Margaret’s parents arrange a society marriage for her, she tries to reconcile herself to the match. But shortly before her betrothal is announced, Margaret flees, leaving her parents to explain her sudden absence to an opulent ballroom stuffed with two hundred distinguished guests. Banished from polite society, Margaret throws herself into charitable work and finds strength in a circle of female friends like herself—women intent on breaking the mold, including Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise. Margaret resolves to follow her heart—a journey of self-discovery that will take her to Ireland, America, and then back to Britain where she finds the life she was always meant to lead. A bold and thoughtful story about a rebellious woman finding herself and her voice in an age of astounding technological change and great social unrest, Her Heart for a Compass is a delicious costume drama rich in atmosphere, history, and color.

30 review for Her Heart for a Compass

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adele

    I really enjoyed this debut adult novel by Sarah Ferguson. What I particularly loved was the inspiration behind the leading lady, Lady Margaret, who was a member of the author’s own family and with further research alongside her mentor and co-author, Marguerite Kaye, a novel filled with history, intrigue, hope, compassion, inspiration, emotion, bravery and romance was formed. Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott is the second daughter for the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. Margaret is 20 years old I really enjoyed this debut adult novel by Sarah Ferguson. What I particularly loved was the inspiration behind the leading lady, Lady Margaret, who was a member of the author’s own family and with further research alongside her mentor and co-author, Marguerite Kaye, a novel filled with history, intrigue, hope, compassion, inspiration, emotion, bravery and romance was formed. Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott is the second daughter for the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. Margaret is 20 years old and is a little perturbed with society rules and what is expected of her. The Duke has chosen a suitable husband for Margaret but she doesn’t love him, she doesn’t really like him and is in a quandary of her options, if she does have any? Does she betray her heart and marry someone she doesn’t like as that is expected of her or does she betray her family and refuse to obey to the rules festooned upon the aristocrats of the era? What a situation to find oneself in! We follow Lady Margaret on her journey of self-discovery, of listening to her heart and to her mind. The story takes us to London, Scotland, Dublin and New York. We encounter many new people that leave a lasting impression on Margaret’s life and give her the much needed strength and guidance for what lies ahead. Lady Margaret is a very likeable characters; she’s smart, brave, a little feisty, kind, compassionate and aspirational. She doesn’t want to conform like her sister and peers, she wants more for her life and more for those kind souls she meets in her quest to find the direction her heart desires. Sarah Ferguson has written a very readable historical romance that is full of atmosphere transporting the reader to a time and place that belongs to the characters in the book. There are moments of compassion, empathy, stepping out of your comfort zone that leave you inspired for a young woman with dreams of a better place for many. Your emotions will become heightened as you wrap yourself around Margaret’s world and the romance will fill your heart with joy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate Eminhizer

    In my opinion, this book was just simply mediocre. I went into it believing I would be swept away and what I got was a character that I just couldn't find any empathy with. The main character, Lady Margaret, is a somewhat spunky teenager who rebels at what her expected responsibilities are. In defying her father's wishes, she is forced to reflect upon her life and her desires. As she finds a way to carve a life out for herself she learns what it is important and what she is capable of. Along the In my opinion, this book was just simply mediocre. I went into it believing I would be swept away and what I got was a character that I just couldn't find any empathy with. The main character, Lady Margaret, is a somewhat spunky teenager who rebels at what her expected responsibilities are. In defying her father's wishes, she is forced to reflect upon her life and her desires. As she finds a way to carve a life out for herself she learns what it is important and what she is capable of. Along the way she finds love and purpose. In some aspects the book unfolds as follows: a rich girl throws a tantrum and eventually gets what she wants. That doesn't make for a compelling plot. The author did do a good job at representing the differences of social class in both London and New York. Lady Margaret represents all those of the upper class who made exceptional changes to the status quo in order to better the opportunities available for those less fortunate. I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    I did a joint review of this one with one of my fellow AAR staffers, Evelyn North. We both gave it the same grade - B/4 stars. Her Heart for a Compass is the first (adult) novel by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and in it, she and her co-writer, historical romance author Marguerite Kaye, explore the life of one of the Duchess’ ancestors, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, a young woman who defied the strict conventions of Victorian England to live life under her own terms. You can read our review at I did a joint review of this one with one of my fellow AAR staffers, Evelyn North. We both gave it the same grade - B/4 stars. Her Heart for a Compass is the first (adult) novel by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and in it, she and her co-writer, historical romance author Marguerite Kaye, explore the life of one of the Duchess’ ancestors, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, a young woman who defied the strict conventions of Victorian England to live life under her own terms. You can read our review at All About Romance.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vivien Parry

    Sailing into love! When I first heard about this book I was intrigued, the synopsis was just the type of book I enjoyed. Lady Margaret enters the frame running from a party where her betrothement is about to be declared. She shudders at the thought of the match her father had made for her in Killin and although she has tried, she cannot stand him and doesn't want to marry him. When her refusal is heard by her father, she is banished from the family to learn a lesson. Margaret's life takes a furth Sailing into love! When I first heard about this book I was intrigued, the synopsis was just the type of book I enjoyed. Lady Margaret enters the frame running from a party where her betrothement is about to be declared. She shudders at the thought of the match her father had made for her in Killin and although she has tried, she cannot stand him and doesn't want to marry him. When her refusal is heard by her father, she is banished from the family to learn a lesson. Margaret's life takes a further turn when she is banished to Ireland after a second refusal to marry Killin. Her correspondence with Lochiel, a friend of her father's finds feelings growing but she doesn't feel ready to marry and when she refused Lochiel, she travels to America to start a new life. When I first started to read I thought Margaret a ninny and flighty but the more I read the more I saw her to be growing in character and in confidence. Her travels were the journey she needed to make to find her way back into society and to the man she was destined to marry. At times the letters within the book made me sob uncontrollably at the harsh way she was treated by her father and that the was ostracized by her family and friends. I can't wait to see what the next book will be like as this one was a surprise and a great read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Nellestein

    I actually really enjoyed this book! Lady Margaret resonated with me. A wonderful story of strength, independence, compassion and love. But I hated Louise!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Vass

    Bumped up a star when I found out this was based on an actual individual. I enjoyed this book and read it quickly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    HalKid2

    I knew Sarah Ferguson had written a series of kids books, so I was both surprised and intrigued when I learned she was branching out into the historical fiction genre (my favorite). And excited about seeing what a royal-insider might be able to do. You won't see the name on the book jacket, but on the title page, you will see Ferguson had a co-writer, historical romance author Marguerite Kaye. Unfortunately, for me, even with Kaye's help, HER HEART FOR A COMPASS turns out to be just an OK read. I knew Sarah Ferguson had written a series of kids books, so I was both surprised and intrigued when I learned she was branching out into the historical fiction genre (my favorite). And excited about seeing what a royal-insider might be able to do. You won't see the name on the book jacket, but on the title page, you will see Ferguson had a co-writer, historical romance author Marguerite Kaye. Unfortunately, for me, even with Kaye's help, HER HEART FOR A COMPASS turns out to be just an OK read. The novel centers on a distant relation of the Duchess, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, the second daughter of a Scottish Duke, who lived during the Victorian age. But this book does NOT actually tell HER story. According to Ferguson, this story is largely made up -- since virtually nothing is known about Lady Margaret. Which I suppose has the advantage of allowing Ferguson and Kaye free rein in creating this novel. Ferguson also explains in the Author's Note that the book contains elements of her own story as well. Here's how. Lady Margaret is a free spirit who refuses to conform to the expectations of her age. She is more outspoken and independent than women of her age are supposed to be. She refuses to marry a man for the betterment of her family and disregards the wishes of her parents. All causing a scandal. Instead, Lady Margaret prefers to live according to what she wishes. (Sound familiar?) How Lady Margaret experiments with her hard-won freedom (including travels to Ireland and later, the United States), how she manages to earn some money, how she tries to improve the lot of impoverished people, and how she deals with love -- all these make up the substance of the story Ferguson and Kaye created. It's a fine story. It's compelling enough to keep you reading. The writing is acceptable. But it didn't quite hang together for me and it is probably about 100 pages longer than it needed to be, if it was a tightly written book. So, if you, like me, are curious about what the Duchess of York can do as a writer, enjoy!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Craig / Phil

    Thank you Harlequin and Sarah for sending us a copy to read and review. I am a royalist and I couldn’t let this book by none other than Fergie slip by without reading it. I knew she was a successful author of children’s books but had no idea she penned this Mills and Boons styled historical romance. A big read of 540 pages kept me indulged. Lady Margaret Scott is banished from high society circles and her family. Breaking conventions, protocols and disobeying her fathers wishes she has to embark o Thank you Harlequin and Sarah for sending us a copy to read and review. I am a royalist and I couldn’t let this book by none other than Fergie slip by without reading it. I knew she was a successful author of children’s books but had no idea she penned this Mills and Boons styled historical romance. A big read of 540 pages kept me indulged. Lady Margaret Scott is banished from high society circles and her family. Breaking conventions, protocols and disobeying her fathers wishes she has to embark on a life of independence. Estranged from her family this journey takes her to Ireland and New York and consolidates a purpose close to her heart. A lifelong friendship with the Queens daughter Princess Louise keeps her aristocratic roots in tact and is leveraged to full advantage in American society. But her free spirited approach to life is quite ground breaking and she doesn’t care. She follows her heart and head. Set in the 1800’s this family saga is loosely based on Sarah Ferguson’s distant relative of the same name but with an imagined series of events and follies. I could not help assuming some of the emotions and decisions made by the character were influenced by Sarah herself. The authenticity of a privileged background and her dalliance into Royal life shone through the pages. At times my eyes glazed but overall it was a great experience. The writing style was complimented with a series of letters and social page newspaper clippings. The research and detail impressive, but the similarities and the fact Sarah acknowledges these was the key for me. A long but fun read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Charli

    I’ll be honest, I never really judge a book by it’s cover, so to speak, but I was apprehensive about this book because of the author. I didn’t have high hopes when I started it, and boy was I very pleasantly surprised by this one, I loved it. I’ve learnt my lesson with this one, I won’t go into a book with apprehension based on who an author is anymore because this debut by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, was absolutely phenomenal. This book is about Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, the daughter of I’ll be honest, I never really judge a book by it’s cover, so to speak, but I was apprehensive about this book because of the author. I didn’t have high hopes when I started it, and boy was I very pleasantly surprised by this one, I loved it. I’ve learnt my lesson with this one, I won’t go into a book with apprehension based on who an author is anymore because this debut by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, was absolutely phenomenal. This book is about Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, the daughter of the Scottish Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, as her father chooses a suitable husband for her but Lady Margaret doesn’t love him, and she really doesn’t like him either. But what are her options? Does she betray her heart and marry someone who she doesn’t like, let alone love, or does she betray her family and refuse the marriage, in which would be breaking the rules of that era? She certainly has a big choice to make, but I won’t tell you what she chooses so you’ll need to read the book and find out for yourselves. I really like Lady Margaret a lot. She’s strong, feisty, brave, kind and compassionate to those around her. She knows what she wants and she isn’t afraid to stand up for herself a get it. Sarah has really written an incredible debut for fans who love historical fiction and historical romance novels. I also had no idea that the novel was inspired by a member of Sarah’s own ancestors from Victorian England. I’m very much looking forward to Sarah’s next book! Thank you to HQ/Mills & Boon for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this 450 page historical novel! Even though the story had a delightful ending, I could have easily read more! Each page was full of masterly worded descriptions of either a location, castle or article of clothing! Like all historical novels, there were characters based on real people and many who were fictional. Beginning in London in 1865, it is the story of Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, who rebels all that society and her family expect from her and emb I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this 450 page historical novel! Even though the story had a delightful ending, I could have easily read more! Each page was full of masterly worded descriptions of either a location, castle or article of clothing! Like all historical novels, there were characters based on real people and many who were fictional. Beginning in London in 1865, it is the story of Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, who rebels all that society and her family expect from her and embarks on a journey of her own She travels from London, to Scotland, across the pond to New York City and eventually back to Scotland; in each place carving a path of her own and meeting many influential people along the way! As soon as Sarah's next book is written, I am rushing to read that, as well!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    I'm not sure how much of this was actually written by Sarah Ferguson and how much by her "co-writer" Marguerite Kaye, but it was definitely NOT a match made in heaven. I hated the narration too. Bailed after 15 painful minutes. Audiobook Narrated by Sarah Ferguson and Ell Potter 16 hours 2 minutes I'm not sure how much of this was actually written by Sarah Ferguson and how much by her "co-writer" Marguerite Kaye, but it was definitely NOT a match made in heaven. I hated the narration too. Bailed after 15 painful minutes. Audiobook Narrated by Sarah Ferguson and Ell Potter 16 hours 2 minutes

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bess

    No literary genius here. 1860s UK setting with a divergence to NYC. It was very much a knockoff Bridgerton with the society season and the queen approving the latest debutantes whose only purpose in life is to marry up in station to improve the families wealth. Complete with gossipy news snippets. The heroine finds her voice in New York but in the end returns to her homeland where she finds love, is reunited with her family and again is in favor with the queen.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Cormier

    This is the story of Lady Margaret Scott the real ancestor of the author, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Lady Margaret is suppose to marry a husband her father's picks for her that is advantageous for the family. It is 1865. Read this novel to see how Lady Margaret finds her voice as she refuses to do what her father and society expect. The book is 549 pages. Worth reading every page. This is the story of Lady Margaret Scott the real ancestor of the author, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Lady Margaret is suppose to marry a husband her father's picks for her that is advantageous for the family. It is 1865. Read this novel to see how Lady Margaret finds her voice as she refuses to do what her father and society expect. The book is 549 pages. Worth reading every page.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lilyane

    Not very well written. What kept me from giving up were the epistolary parts of the book: I found them more interesting and emotional than the narrative. I can't in good conscience recommend "Her Heart for a Compass": there are so many far better historical novels available. Not very well written. What kept me from giving up were the epistolary parts of the book: I found them more interesting and emotional than the narrative. I can't in good conscience recommend "Her Heart for a Compass": there are so many far better historical novels available.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    4.5* What a great story this turned out to be - a little lengthy in places - yet, overall fabulously well researched and presented. This is the story of Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, daughter of the Duke Of Buccleuch, from the age of eighteen to twenty seven. She is an ancestor of the current Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. The year is 1865 and London society dictates the role for young women, however, Lady Margaret rebels against society and her fathers wishes, embarking on her own path. 4.5* What a great story this turned out to be - a little lengthy in places - yet, overall fabulously well researched and presented. This is the story of Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, daughter of the Duke Of Buccleuch, from the age of eighteen to twenty seven. She is an ancestor of the current Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. The year is 1865 and London society dictates the role for young women, however, Lady Margaret rebels against society and her fathers wishes, embarking on her own path. ‘But first and foremost, above all these Golden Rules, I will continue to let my heart be my compass.’ Sarah Ferguson (in liaison with Marguerite Kaye, a Mills & Boon historical author) has produced an engaging fictional account of events based on real people from the period. Margaret makes for a wonderful heroine with great drive and determination - her resilience to pursue her dreams in the face of such resistance was most admirable. Her refusal to conform, not only for her own self, but in an effort to assist and show compassion to those around her was inspirational. ‘Oh, it’s worth a great deal more than some would credit. Life can be tough around here, even for little ones.” “Then anything I can do to make life easier, I will do. But I don’t just want to dispense charity, Father Sebastian, I want to understand why charity is required in the first place.” “Finding the root cause and doing something to alleviate it is exactly why I am here.” I loved the contrast between London and New York for a socialite of the time, and at the other extreme, the plight of the poor in both these high profile cities. Also included were trips to Ireland and Scotland - much was covered in both locale, people and pursuits. There are a range of encounters that make a lasting impression as Margaret strives to undertake her personal journey of self discovery. ‘It's not about doing good, Louise. It's about learning what real life is like. It's about being part of something and feeling useful.’ This is a most worthy entry into historical romance and drama with both atmosphere and plot providing the reader with compassion and empathy for Margaret’s plight. I recommend reading the tale of Lady Margaret as it follows a solid and satisfying journey for a young woman of the day. “Embrace being different. No-one has ever said that to me before. I will try, though I don’t know how.” He kissed her cheek. “You’ll find a way. As I said, it won’t be easy. There will be tears, and times when you will ask yourself is it worth it? But take it from one who knows. Ultimately, it is.” This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Amber

    Her Heart For A Compass is a Victorian romance. It is based around a true character, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, and the authors of this book have created a fictional tale about her life. As a second daughter of a Duke, Lady Margaret was brought up to do her duty by both her family and the society in which she lived. However, she rebelled against her father’s wishes Lady Margaret’s refusal set her on a lonely path as she was sent away from her family, but as the story progressed Lady Mar Her Heart For A Compass is a Victorian romance. It is based around a true character, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, and the authors of this book have created a fictional tale about her life. As a second daughter of a Duke, Lady Margaret was brought up to do her duty by both her family and the society in which she lived. However, she rebelled against her father’s wishes Lady Margaret’s refusal set her on a lonely path as she was sent away from her family, but as the story progressed Lady Margaret followed her heart and grew in confidence to become an independent woman; a rarity in Victorian England. During the story the reader is taken on a journey which included Scotland, Lambeth in London and New York, and I could easily picture the settings. The narrative is sprinkled with letters between Margaret, her family and friends, as well as several newspaper articles written about Margaret; not usually a fan of such inclusions, I was surprised by how well I thought they worked for this book. The author’s notes at the back of the book explain that Lady Margaret is loosely based on a relative of Sarah Ferguson the Duchess Of York, who wrote this book with her co-author Marguerite Kaye. I’m sure that the Duchess’s knowledge of royal etiquette must have helped enormously as far as giving the story authenticity is concerned. I must mention this is a long book, with my paperback version reaching almost 550 pages. I felt there was room to shorten the narrative without taking away too much of the story. In other areas, a few times dialogue was used to convey information to the reader, in a fashion that made the dialogue seem unnatural; the facts could have been interspersed in the narrative instead. Overall, this is the first attempt at writing for an adult audience by the Duchess and I’m sure it will be popular. I look forward to seeing what she writes next.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    To be fair, I only borrowed this book from my library as it was written by Sarah Ferguson and I was curious and intrigued. Being a Mills and Boons book (and only having read a handful when I was much younger), I was expecting torn bodices and heaving breasts and chaste kisses ... so I really had no expectations. This book was okay - outside of my usual genre so I find it a bit difficult to judge by comparison and I'm unlikely to ever pick up something else she writes. It was fairly obvious what w To be fair, I only borrowed this book from my library as it was written by Sarah Ferguson and I was curious and intrigued. Being a Mills and Boons book (and only having read a handful when I was much younger), I was expecting torn bodices and heaving breasts and chaste kisses ... so I really had no expectations. This book was okay - outside of my usual genre so I find it a bit difficult to judge by comparison and I'm unlikely to ever pick up something else she writes. It was fairly obvious what would happen and who the protaganist would eventually connect with but I figure that is a historical romance novel trope. It was interesting reading about the societal expectations of women in the 1860s and the reader could draw comparisons between "society" in England and in America. But, it didn't stir me in a way that would have long lasting impact on me. Maybe it wasn't meant to and it was just written for entertainment - if that's the case, then it was a good book as it did its job. It is not a challenging read and you can pick it up and put it down without losing any of the plot.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    This book was very disappointing in a few key ways that kind of ruined the whole book, despite it being entertaining otherwise. The first way was that it was supposed to be based on the life of a real person, but when I got to the notes at the end, I found that all that is actually known about this person is the names of her family members and the dates that she was born, got married, and died. EVERYTHING else was made up! I say, if that's all you know, just make a pure-fiction novel and don't t This book was very disappointing in a few key ways that kind of ruined the whole book, despite it being entertaining otherwise. The first way was that it was supposed to be based on the life of a real person, but when I got to the notes at the end, I found that all that is actually known about this person is the names of her family members and the dates that she was born, got married, and died. EVERYTHING else was made up! I say, if that's all you know, just make a pure-fiction novel and don't try to connect it to a real person. The second way was that there were several instances of the author projecting her 21st-century thinking onto the character. For example, she was very progressive in her thoughts on women's clothing, how women should think about marriage and children (or lack there of) and a few hints of homosexuality and pre-marital sex being okay. It's one thing to do this if there's evidence of the character having these opinions, but, going back to my first point, there isn't that evidence so it seems very forced.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sharyn

    Headstrong woman finds her place Sarah Ferguson's debut novel is lovely, with hints of her own life (and apparently the heroine is a distant relation). There is so much to like in this book, a Duke's daughter Margaret, who is best friends with Queen Victoria's daughter Louise ( a sculptress and independent woman herself) refuses to be married to a man she doesn't like, and who she suspects doesn't like her. Her father exiles her to Ireland to get her to change her mind. The ramifications of this Headstrong woman finds her place Sarah Ferguson's debut novel is lovely, with hints of her own life (and apparently the heroine is a distant relation). There is so much to like in this book, a Duke's daughter Margaret, who is best friends with Queen Victoria's daughter Louise ( a sculptress and independent woman herself) refuses to be married to a man she doesn't like, and who she suspects doesn't like her. Her father exiles her to Ireland to get her to change her mind. The ramifications of this are the rest of the story as Margaret finds ways to help the poor, travel and become a writer. As this is historical fiction as well as a romance, there is a very happy ending. Thanks to Goodreads for my winning this book. I am so glad I read it, and highly recommend it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Louise Mullins

    A fantastic debut, rich with detail, told in an interesting and informative way through a character-driven narrative that is authentic. This is so much more than a romance. In fact I'd go so far as to say it's a coming of age piece of literature about a woman finding her own way in a world purpose-built for men. And it's exquisite. I loved every page. And I'm thoroughly looking forward to Ferguson's next title. A fantastic debut, rich with detail, told in an interesting and informative way through a character-driven narrative that is authentic. This is so much more than a romance. In fact I'd go so far as to say it's a coming of age piece of literature about a woman finding her own way in a world purpose-built for men. And it's exquisite. I loved every page. And I'm thoroughly looking forward to Ferguson's next title.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn E Hagen

    I read this book in three days. The articles I'd read previously all talked about the fact that Sarah, Duchess of York, had written a historical novel. None said what the book was really about. Lady Margaret is a fictionalized version of an actual ancestor of the Duchess. We first meet her when she's is going to be betrothed to a man she has no desire to marry because her father says it's her duty. The marriage will benefit the family fortune. What's a young Victorian lady to do? Lady Margaret ca I read this book in three days. The articles I'd read previously all talked about the fact that Sarah, Duchess of York, had written a historical novel. None said what the book was really about. Lady Margaret is a fictionalized version of an actual ancestor of the Duchess. We first meet her when she's is going to be betrothed to a man she has no desire to marry because her father says it's her duty. The marriage will benefit the family fortune. What's a young Victorian lady to do? Lady Margaret can't think of anything to do except to run away. And that is when her many adventures begin. I thought the book was very well-written and researched. Letters from one character to another are interspersed with the chapters, as well as the text of a few newspaper articles. I was only distracted once, when Lady Margaret and Princess Louise are talking and one uses the word "squish." I thought, aha, an anachronism! But I was wrong because "squish" was first used in 1647! A co-author is not named on the cover but is thanked in the afterword. I can easily imagine this being made into a film or series. Lady Margaret does what the book's title describes: she uses her heart for a compass, and finds her own way in a time when women couldn't even vote and were burdened by bustles and other cumbersome garments.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen A. Wyle

    This is an absorbing, vividly detailed, and informative work of historical fiction. As for whatever other genres or sub-genres it might fit, I would suggest the reader not adhere to any particular expectations, though I am not saying whether any might fit. Is that cryptic enough? . . . Lady Margaret is a very sympathetic and very human character, and many secondary characters are worth meeting. Note: Sarah Ferguson has a coauthor not mentioned on the cover.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nichole

    My last book contained a “feisty, modern” heroine who I found to be rather annoying and dumb. Somehow, Margaret made similar choices but wasn’t annoying, wasn’t dumb, and rather compelling. I was surprisingly delighted by this one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katische Haberfield

    I really enjoyed this. It's not meant to be a historical fiction - it's a blended work of imagination with real characters who are personal to the Duchess - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope that Sarah, Duchess of York writes many more. I really enjoyed this. It's not meant to be a historical fiction - it's a blended work of imagination with real characters who are personal to the Duchess - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope that Sarah, Duchess of York writes many more.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julia Fink

    boring, boring, boring. Couldn't finish. Too many other books I want to read...could not bother with this one boring, boring, boring. Couldn't finish. Too many other books I want to read...could not bother with this one

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shelagh

    I was lucky to be gifted with an autographed copy of Her Heart for a Compass, by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Thank you so much Harlequin Australia! I didn’t really know what to expect from this book. It’s historical and I love English historical so there was that to recommend it. I was worried before I started reading that this might be one of those stories written by a celebrity and selling well because of that celebrity status. I was so, so wrong. This is an extremely well researched and I was lucky to be gifted with an autographed copy of Her Heart for a Compass, by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Thank you so much Harlequin Australia! I didn’t really know what to expect from this book. It’s historical and I love English historical so there was that to recommend it. I was worried before I started reading that this might be one of those stories written by a celebrity and selling well because of that celebrity status. I was so, so wrong. This is an extremely well researched and well constructed story, which follows the life of Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, daughter of the Duke Of Buccleuch, from the age of eighteen too twenty seven. Hers is an intriguing life journey taking in the height of London society with all its expectations and prejudices and new York society with a different yet equally demanding set of societal rules. Margaret is a strong and determined heroine keen to make her place in the world and not frightened to take on a challenge. I admired and respected her drive and her resilience. Donald Cameron Of Lochiel, twelve years Margaret’s senior, makes an excellent love interest. His appearances on the page showcase his common sense, compassion and willingness to accept Margaret as a person rather than simply the daughter of a peer of the realm. Her Heart for a Compass is compelling story that hooked me at once and kept me enthralled throughout.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily Amin

    Very well written. However, about half of the book could probably be cut out. There's a lot of pointless exposition, but it was still a fun read, especially if you would like to get lost in the world of a Victorian aristocrat for a while. Very well written. However, about half of the book could probably be cut out. There's a lot of pointless exposition, but it was still a fun read, especially if you would like to get lost in the world of a Victorian aristocrat for a while.

  28. 4 out of 5

    OvercommuniKate

    This would be a good book for a preteen who isn't quite ready for the prose of Henry James but likes the Great Gatsby and the gilded age. There's pre-marital kissing so it's not "clean" but it's clean enough for a kid. I wouldn't consider this an adult book. I think if this was marketed for juveniles or as a clean romance I would have given it a star higher. This would be a good book for a preteen who isn't quite ready for the prose of Henry James but likes the Great Gatsby and the gilded age. There's pre-marital kissing so it's not "clean" but it's clean enough for a kid. I wouldn't consider this an adult book. I think if this was marketed for juveniles or as a clean romance I would have given it a star higher.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    “Her Heart for a Compass” is an enjoyable historical novel that will appeal to a lot of readers. The burning question for many potential readers is, of course, can Ferguson write, or is this just a vanity project? Happily, Ferguson can indeed write, and in an accessible style that makes this long novel no hardship to read. Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott is having to face up to the fact that she simply can’t marry the man her parents have chosen for her. She detests him. And ultimately, despi “Her Heart for a Compass” is an enjoyable historical novel that will appeal to a lot of readers. The burning question for many potential readers is, of course, can Ferguson write, or is this just a vanity project? Happily, Ferguson can indeed write, and in an accessible style that makes this long novel no hardship to read. Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott is having to face up to the fact that she simply can’t marry the man her parents have chosen for her. She detests him. And ultimately, despite intense pressure – especially from her bully of a father – she refuses. This triggers a long journey, literal and metaphorical, to find the life she wants to live. It’s sometimes lonely. It encompasses the highest of society – Princess Louise is one of her friends – and the lowest, as Margaret attempts to help alleviate the effects of poverty in some of the poorest areas. Although Margaret is not keen on society’s insistence that she should marry and mould her life to a man’s, love does find her. The novel is not highly original, but this is due more to inbuilt constraints than weakness on Ferguson’s part. For one, this is based on historical fact. Ferguson has chosen people about whom little detail is known, allowing her considerable room to build her story; but she is still bound by the known facts. Additionally, the late 1800’s had strong social mores which dramatically constrained women, particularly those from the financial and social elite. This too limits the sort of story that can be told about a woman of the time. Marguerite Kaye is cited as a co-writer. I have not read any of Kaye’s work – she’s an oft-published author of historical romances – so cannot comment on how much of this novel is her voice rather than Ferguson’s. I do suspect, given her experience, that she had a strong hand in structuring the novel. Although this is a long novel, it’s well judged in terms of detail – enough is given to bring the historical setting to life, but not enough to bog the story down. I did feel that the pace of the story flagged a little sometimes. At times it seemed a very long time between significant events. Although this may be true to life, in fiction it can lead to unfortunate dips in the pacing. However, “Her Heart for a Compass” is generally absorbing, a genuinely interesting story. A large part of this is due to the characters. They’re a particularly vivid lot, and readers will quickly come to cheer Lady Margaret on, despise her bullying father, sympathise with her mother (trapped between husband and daughter), and be intrigued by her suitors. Knowing these people were generally real, I became particularly interested in a couple and wanted to find out what happened to them in real life. For this reason I was grateful for the historical note that ends the novel, answering some of my questions. It saved me some research! Although romance is a significant element of the story – as you’d expect, given the limited prospects for women at the time – the novel includes a lot of other things. Notably, social problems of the era and social change. On balance, I probably wouldn’t call it a romance, rather just a historical novel. This is a novel that a lot of readers will enjoy. It’s well written, and the story is absorbing and interesting. The flaws are minor (some predictability and some pacing issues), and some won’t be bothered by them at all. I’d recommend that readers who like historical fiction with a strong dash of romance give this a try. If you enjoyed this review, please visit www.otherdreamsotherlives.home.blog to read more.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Samreen Ahsan

    I'm a sucker for historical fiction and this one initially grabbed my attention with its cover. If you're a lover of stories set in the Victorian Era, this is right up your alley. Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is a charming, witty young girl who is expected to marry as she is bid. But on her first ball, she runs away. Here, readers may expect that she doesn't wish to marry her father's choice because she is courted by some other gentleman but that's not the case. Margaret wants to chase her own dr I'm a sucker for historical fiction and this one initially grabbed my attention with its cover. If you're a lover of stories set in the Victorian Era, this is right up your alley. Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is a charming, witty young girl who is expected to marry as she is bid. But on her first ball, she runs away. Here, readers may expect that she doesn't wish to marry her father's choice because she is courted by some other gentleman but that's not the case. Margaret wants to chase her own dreams and marriage is not something she is eagerly looking forward to. But as she tries to hide away from everyone, she finds herself in the company of Lochiel, her father's friend. Banished by her father the Duke of Buccleuch for her careless behaviour, Margeret is asked to live in their Scottish residence, away from society for a few months. During her time of reflection, she exchanges letters with Liochel and develops friendship and bonding through written words. When she returns to London, she surrenders herself to fate and decides she'd marry whoever her father had chosen for her. She distracts her mind by investing her time in church activities and charity programs and develops an interest in writing storybooks for children. Yet, the exchange of letters with Liochel continues. As time passes and her betrothal approaches, she realizes that her life would be bound to a man forever who'd pay no attention to her existence. Another impulsive decision and Margeret decides to reject her father's choice once again. But this time, her punishment is severe and she is banished to live in Ireland. During her exile, her friendship with Liochel slowly turns into courtship till Liochel comes to her doorstep and asks for her hand. Margaret loves him too but this is not the life she dreamed of. She wants to run her life to her own accord. From then on, Margeret decides to take the reigns of her life into her own hands and follow her dreams. This story is based on the real-life of Lady Margaret Montagu Scott, who leaves England and sets sail to New York to begin a new chapter of her life. We are talking about 1860s, a time where the lady, even walking alone in the dark was considered a scandal. Travelling to another continent, starting life afresh and becoming a writer was something a very few dared to dream. When I started reading the book, the first half of the novel didn't even grab my attention as it was all about her daily routine and nothing exciting going on in Margeret's life. In the end, when I found out that the story is based on a real person, I've added one more star to the review. Though it is indeed her everyday routine which can be boring to read at times if we consider the fact that how women were expected to behave, it is worth considering that one needs the courage to take this kind of bold step, and considering Margert was only 21 when she travelled to NY. ** Four stars!

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