Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel (Review)

The Maid of Ballymacool

The Maid of Ballymacool is a lovely story that is part romance part mystery set in the town of Ballymacool, Ireland in the 1930s.


Title: The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel
Category: Adult Fiction, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Co 
Publication date: February 21, 2023
Format: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, & eBook
Rating: PG for theme physical and emotional abuse


Brianna Kelly was abandoned at Ballymacool House and Boarding School as an infant. She has worked there since she was a wee girl and will likely die there. Despite a sense that she was made for something more, Brianna feels powerless to change her situation, so she consoles herself by exploring the Ballymacool grounds, looking for hidden treasures to add to the secret trove beneath the floorboards of her room.

When Michael Wray, the son of local gentry, is sent to Ballymacool to deal with his unruly cousin, he finds himself drawn to Brianna, immediately and inescapably. There is something about her that feels so . . . familiar. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she commits to learning its origins, with the help of Michael. What they discover may change everything.

Fan favorite Jennifer Deibel invites you back to the Emerald Isle in the 1930s for this fresh take on the Cinderella story, complete with a tantalizing mystery, a budding romance, and a chance at redemption.

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The Maid of Ballymacool is a lovely story that is part romance part mystery set in the town of Ballymacool, Ireland in the 1930s. Ballymacool House actually exists, and the author expounds more on this in her notes at the end of the book which I also enjoyed reading.

Brianna Kelly is an orphan who is mistreated by the schoolmistress of the Ballymacool House and Boarding School where she was raised from infancy and where she now works hard as a maid. Despite the lack of parental love in her life, Brianna's spirit is not broken because she loves the woods and nature and finds refreshment for her soul there. She is a lovely character and my heart ached for her. When Michael Wray is sent to the school to see about his young mischievous cousin, he meets Brianna and is immediately attracted to her. 

Yes, this has the definite feel of a Cinderella story and I was curious about the mystery surrounding Brianna, which kept me engaged in the story. Irish history comes alive as the author describes life in the boarding school and small town, with its characters, some of which make an appearance from her previous book A Dance in Donegal, which I read. The dialogue is interspersed with Gaelic expressions, which I liked, but they were not followed by a translation so I had no idea at times what the phrase meant.

The ending was very satisfying and finally, Brianna goes through an emotional period as she comes to understand what was taken from her. Throughout the story, she seemed accepting of her mistreatment and never rebelled against the schoolmistress, but as the plot moves along we finally get to see how Brianna is truly affected by all that has happened to her and how she gains the courage to stand up for the respect of which she is deserving as a human being.

This was a quick and enjoyable read, but may be triggering for those who've experienced physical and emotional abuse. However, the themes of jealousy, isolation, self-respect, resilience, and justice make this an interesting novel, especially after coming out of a global pandemic.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.



Jennifer Deibel is the author of A Dance in Donegal (winner of the Kipp Award for Historical Romance) and The Lady of Galway Manor (a Parable Group bestseller). Her work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and in other publications. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children.


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  1. Sounds like a good story!
    Mary @Bookfan

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Laura. This novel would be the perfect read during St. Patrick day celebrations in March!


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