Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Recommendation- Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

At the beginning of Mary Hooper’s Fallen Grace, 15-year old Grace Parkes is on the Necropolis Railway to Brookwood Cemetery, with a task just as sad as everyone else’s: to bury her stillborn child. But, being an orphan on the streets of Victorian London with barely a penny to her name, she has been advised by the midwife to find a coffin on the train, lift the lid, and lay the poor bundle inside before the lid is nailed shut. At the Cemetery, she meets two important people that could change her future: Mrs. Unwin, rich proprietress of a funeral establishment, offering employment; and Mr. James Solent, a young legal clerk, and brother to the dead woman whose coffin now holds a secret.

When Grace and her older mentally disabled sister Lily are evicted from their pathetic little room at Mrs. Macready’s boarding house (the property has been condemned), the girls have no other choice: rather than return to the training school they fled from in fear, they go to the Unwins. While it’s nice to now have a warm bed and food in their bellies, the comfort comes at a price. And unbeknownst to the Parkes sisters, something secret waits for them, something anyone would lie and scheme to possess—including the Unwins…

I tried to put myself in Grace and Lily’s worn-out shoes; tried to imagine living in a constant state of survival, every hour of every day, struggling among the ruthless and the poor, wondering if today was the day I would wind up sleeping on the streets, starving to death, with no chance of climbing back up. I was scared out of my mind. Life in Victorian England was ghastly, and Hooper depicts it in great detail.

Needless to say, you will cheer for Grace and Lily, and admire Grace’s intelligence and persistence. You will demand vengeance on those who abuse and demean them. I found it a satisfying read, and I hope you will find it the same. Enjoy!

-Reviewed by Debra B.

No comments: