Sunday, 6 February 2011

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardback
Published: June 2010
Book: For Review From Bloosmury*
Number of Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Novel, YA
Recommended Age: 11+
Nothing Unsuitable, Although Touches on Subject of Rape (No Graphic Scenes, Descriptions)
“You must go to Brookwood.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s like a wonderful garden, with trees and flowers and statues.  When you think about your poor child, you’ll be able to imagine him there with beautiful stone angels watching over him.”

‘The train roared, shook and swayed as it rounded a corner, and Grace grasped the window frame and waited until it straightened its course.  Then she pushed open the door to the van containing the coffins and went in...’
London, 1861.  Grace Parkes, a pale but determined figure, clutches a precious bundle closely to her as she travels on the train to the famed Brookwood Cemetery.  Grace has a heartbreaking duty to carry out.

Each day Grace must find a new way of earning enough money to pay the rent for the bleak, cold room that she and her sister live in, and to buy them enough – just – to eat.
But there is a different danger threatening Grace, a danger linked to an event in her past that she is desperate to forget.  Grace has caught the eye of the Unwins, an unscrupulous family whose shady business dealings are those of death and mourning, and who will stop at nothing to defraud two young women of what is rightfully theirs...

I have always loved historical novels, and Fallen Grace was one of the best I’ve read.  A brilliant story of rags to riches, it tells the story of Grace, a strong, tragic orphaned girl, and her disabled sister Lily.  It had me completely hooked: Mary Hooper’s writing, characters and plot were absolutely incredibly, and really made you feel as though you were in early Victorian times.  All the tiny details made the entire story come to life and really authentic, and all the hardships of Grace and Lily were described in a way that shocked me and made me feel so sorry for them it almost hurt.
From the very beginning, I absolutely loved Grace.  Pale, fragile and beautiful, her life is so heartrending that she had my sympathy from the word go.  Despite her horrible life, she’s strong enough to deal with finding food for her and her elder sister, along with all the difficulties thrown at her.  She’s a perfect heroine, and I found myself really feeling sorry for her, and wanting for her whole life to get better: she really deserved for it to.
I loved Lily too, the young girl trapped in a woman’s body, unable to function properly without her little sister and completely incapable of telling a lie.  Her completely innocence is so touching and sweet that I could completely understand why Grace felt so desperate to keep her sheltered from the world.
The villains of the book are the Unwin family: deceitful, manipulative, cruel and prepared to do just about anything to get their hands on money.  I could feel myself getting angrier and angrier at their immoral business habits, practically praying for someone to expose them for who they were.
The book somehow manages to be sinister and dark without crossing into the truly horrible and terrifying category, which was absolutely perfect.  The balance and the details made this book absolutely fascinating, and it taught me absolutely loads about all the etiquettes and little facts about the early 19th century.  I honestly dread to think how much research Hooper must have put into this book to get all the tiny snippets that make it unique, but I’m so glad she did.  This book’s characters and plots literally jumped straight off of the page, and felt so real it was like I actually knew them. 
Perfect for people who love the past but don’t want to have all the heaviness of a classic, this is definitely a historical novel to read.  Themes like rape are touched upon, but it all happened before the book started so there are no graphic or gruesome scenes.  I loved it and definitely recommend it!

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Sense and Sensibilities by Jane Austen
Modern Day:
Any historical novel by Mary Hooper – such as At the House of the Magician
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer

Challenges It's Taken Part In:

1 comment:

Mishel (P.S. I Love Books) said...

I hadn't heard of this one before your review but it sounds excellent. I'll definitely be looking into it!