Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Title: A Mad, Wicked Folly
Author: Sharon Biggs Waller
Year Published: 2015

Genre: Young Adult historical fiction and romance
Pages: 420
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)UK

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):
 Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artists--a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse--or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high-society obligations closes in around her, Vicky is torn. Just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

Review: I loved this book! I was completely pulled into the world of the upper class in London, 1909. I loved the fashion, the houses, the way the characters had to behave and interact with one another. It's all very Downton Abbey (and that's high praise coming from me).

Vicky is a great strong female character in a time when that just wasn't done. Her family and friends want her to be silent, not educated, and have no opinions that matter. She is to learn to run a household, go to parties, and visit with friends who talk about the weather and how to find good "help." Vicky wants none of that. She cares about politics, art, love, and is interested in what's going on around her. For goodness sakes, she calls her ladies maid by her first name... how scandalous!

The supporting characters round out the time period nicely, allowing the reader to really get a sense of what life was like for men and women at the turn of the twentieth century. Through the suffragettes, Vicky's maid, and Will, Vicky's policeman friend, we get to see how the rest of London lived: small cramped apartments, shared public baths, poor diets, and not much respect. But somehow, the lower classes seem happier. Vicky just needs to figure out why.

I also really liked that the author has about ten pages at the end to fill in the historical facts about Edwardian England, it's fashion, the women's vote movement, and classism in England.

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