I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on 2011-02-01
Genres: Europe, Family, Historical, Young Adult
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Poor, orphaned Grace Parkes is in a horrible situation. Her illegitimate child has just died in childbirth, so she's traveled to the Brookwood Cemetery to place the small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can do right by the little baby, and to avoid the disgrace of a pauper's grave.Grace meets two people at the cemetery who will have a most unusual affect on her life, though she doesn't know that yet. For now, Grace has to suppress her grief and get on with her meager life, scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food, and looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself. But a great fraud has been perpetrated on young Grace - and she is secretly the recipient of a most unusual legacy -- if only she is able to claim it. Of course, the rich only get richer in this gothic tale of class distinctions, mysterious secrets, and malicious fraud.
I’m not sure why it is that I find Victorian-era settings of historical fiction so irresistible. Surely, it’s not the lack of sexy-times. I know that sometimes less is more as far as sexual tension goes, but still. I guess the time period is fun. You got orphans, hats, gaslights, Dickens, spiritualism, a cavalcade of awesome. Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper embodies what I love about this historical setting, not just by merely placing characters haphazardly in this era, but by providing a touch that feels Dickensian, but with a female main character.
Grace, title character of Fallen Grace is a fallen woman at tender fifteen. After the pain of losing her baby, it seems Grace’s luck takes a turn for the worst. Did I mention that she has a sister, Lily, who is developmentally disabled? OH and the two sisters are orphans in London? As fate would have it, several outside parties conspire to keep the sisters from claiming what is rightfully theirs.
Now, I know I normally prattle on about the characteristics of the MC, but I thought instead I would ramble on about the bad guys. Fallen Grace harkens back to a time, when being a bad guy meant more than harboring a secret heart of gold, when bad guys were bad guys, and not in need of redemption via woman. That’s right, these are mustache twirling villains of the first class, and that is what I love every once in awhile. The Unwins (the villains) are a clan dealing in the despicable, cashing in on grief. Also, relentless in their social climbing. They are the type of people who don’t tip just to save a buck. Basically people who I’d hate in real life. I felt that intense hate while reading. FYI, I like to hate villains when I read. It gives me a sense of smugness when they get their comeuppance.
Hooper’s style has a historical feel, obviously as this is historical fiction, yet I feel it is accessible to younger readers. I know I felt on-edge while reading. At one point, I peaked ahead to find out if the two sisters were going to get screwed over, but still learn a valuable life lesson. I won’t tell you the conclusion that I came to.
Fallen Grace evokes foggy London streets, old newspapers and lovable orphans, in an overall winning combination.