Her Heart for a Compass

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Title: Her Heart for a Compass: A Novel

Author: Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

Publisher: William Morrow

Copyright: August 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0062976529


Format: Hardcover, 560 Pages

Genres: Historical Fiction, Biographical Historical Fiction, Women’s Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


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.


It is all arranged. Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, second daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch, is expected to make a most propitious match. But on the night when her betrothal is to be announced to all of polite society, she makes her escape and instantly becomes the subject of gossip. After incurring her father’s wrath, she is sent away to live in the Scottish countryside, where she is isolated and separated from her family. It is only when she is utterly alone that Lady Margaret begins to evaluate what she wants. Thereafter, she embarks upon a journey to find herself in a world where her entire life is decided for her. A young woman with an indomitable spirit, she seeks to break free of these constraints and live life on her own terms.

This is a masterfully woven tale, rife with compelling, believable characters. Lady Margaret is an unconventional heroine who must overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Her father is a cold and calculating man who treats his daughter only as a pawn to be manipulated. Margaret’s closest friend, Princess Louise, was perhaps my favorite character because of her vivacity and sharp wit.

In Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York’s debut novel, co-written with Marguerite Kaye, the bygone world of the Victorian era, complete with its propriety and austerity, comes to life. Not only is this novel exceedingly well-written, but its narrative is rich and captivating. The writing has a good balance between descriptive scenes and dialogue. While the pacing is mostly steady, there are lulls where the story slows down. There are even instances where the thread of the plot appears lost, which is quite distracting. But overall, Her Heart for a Compass is a thoroughly engrossing read that swept me up into the intrigue and drama of Lady Margaret’s fascinating life.

Originally featured on the History Novel Society website.


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