Sunday, July 11, 2021

Her Heart for a Compass, a Victorian coming-of-age novel by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and Marguerite Kaye

Ferguson, the well-known former British royal, in collaboration with romance author Marguerite Kaye, has crafted a debut historical novel of thought-provoking escapism. She bases her protagonist, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, on a distant great-aunt and, incorporating autobiographical elements, weaves a fictional coming-of-age adventure for her.

In 1865, flame-haired Margaret, the Duke of Buccleuch’s second daughter, ignites a scandal after fleeing her betrothal party. Torn between duty and personal desires, she shares confidences with other women weighing these issues, including best friend Princess Louise, and is forced to make difficult choices that leave her seeking self-reflection. She also learns to use her privilege for good.

In contrast with the Victorian nobility’s mannered world, Margaret moves through life with disarming candor. The pages turn swiftly, and as Margaret travels from London to Scotland, Ireland, and New York City, readers will bask in the lush details on fashion and architecture. The writings interspersed throughout the narrative – gossipy society columns, letters, and more – heighten this captivating novel's theme of a woman gaining confidence and learning to direct her own story.

Her Heart for a Compass will be published by William Morrow (US) and Mills and Boon (UK) in August. I reviewed it for Booklist's May 15th issue from an Edelweiss copy.  There aren't many reviews out there so far, but I'm sure we'll be seeing more as the pub date gets closer. 

At the end of the novel, Sarah Ferguson writes her own author's note, explaining how she's been wanting to write Lady Margaret's story for fifteen years, and that her heroine was the daughter of her 3x great-grandparents. Both authors also contribute a historical note, detailing which parts of the book are historical and which are invented.

Read more about the book and the authors' collaboration at Town and Country and The Bookseller, where the publication was originally announced.


  1. I'd read that! Maybe a little Georgette Heyer vibe? I remember that we had a picture book that Sarah wrote, "Tea for Ruby," in our library - I think it was shelved under Y for York. Thanks for the review!

  2. I haven't read that one, but I read, a while ago, her book on Queen Victoria's travels. I enjoyed all the details on Victorian society and class differences - it's similar to Heyer's style in that respect.

  3. Thanks for your review. Looking forward to reading this book.

  4. I hope you'll enjoy it. It's a fairly long book, but it held my attention.