Suddenly risen to power and influence, Samuel Fairbrother, manufacturer and retailer of boots, shoes and clogs, decided that his new station in life deserved a more imposing residence. Accordingly he bought himself a thirty-four-roomed mansion situated on the outskirts of Fellburn. With the house came the butler, Maitland, who at once made plain his belief that Samuel, far from the gentleman his predecessor had been, was no more than an upstart.
So began a clash of wills between master and man, at which Samuel Fairbrother discovered he was at a distinct disadvantage, for Maitland was well skilled in the art of maintaining his indispensability. Fairbrother, for his part, was only too aware that he dare not dispense with Maitland's services. And so an uneasy truce was declared between them.
As the years went by and the century turned, Samuel Fairbrother saw his children, one by one, leave the big house to make lives of their own - all except his eldest daughter Janet who, by means of a legacy, was enabled to shape the destiny of her father's scattered family and effect the reconciliation that he thought was impossible.
The Upstart is yet another brilliant example of Catherine Cookson's supreme ability to capture the conflicts of class in the society of the late nineteenth century.show more