by Sharon Biggs Waller
To be published on January 23, 2014
by Viking Juvenile
Source: borrowed an ARC on a tour set up by Heather @ The Flyleaf Review.
Connect with the author: website | Facebook | Twitter.
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 artist—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 must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?My take: I love historical fiction, but much to my shock, I found that I read much less of it in 2013 than in 2012. What gives? I'm not sure, but I'm determined to remedy this in 2014...
If you love historical fiction -- books like Cinders and Sapphires or shows like Downton Abbey -- then you should definitely try A Mad, Wicked Folly.
As the book's synopsis suggests, this is a book about an Edwardian girl who feels constrained by the arbitrary rules and customs of her time, rules that say that she can't be an artist and must marry someone hand-picked by her parents. Vicky is an engaging heroine -- headstrong and opinionated. After she's exposed for posing nude for her art class, she's thrown out of her fancy French finishing school and returns home to London in disgrace. Her parents are eager to get her married off and out of trouble, but she becomes involved with a group of suffragists who are fighting to get women the right to vote. The book incorporates real historical figures into the story, including British suffragist Christabel Pankhurst. My high school didn't teach much about this aspect of history, and I was fascinated and inspired by these women who risked so much to give me a right that I often take for granted.
But back to our story ... in addition to the historical elements, I really enjoyed all the little details that were woven into the story. Vicky's family is rich, but they're nouveau riche. She's -- and I loved this fun touch -- the daughter of a toilet manufacturer. I also loved the fact that the headstrong antics that get Vicky into trouble aren't just there to further the plot -- Vicky dreams of being accepted to the Royal College of Art and doesn't want to let anything -- not posing nude, getting arrested, disappointing her family, or becoming a spinster -- get in her way.
I often complain that works of historical fiction don't offer enough for those readers who want to know more. Well, A Mad, Wicked Folly warmed my nerdy heart by also including an extensive set of author's notes on historical details, a bibliography AND a recipe.
From now through the end of January, author Sharon Biggs Waller is giving away a fabulous MWF swag pack that includes a signed book and audiobook, a beautiful custom made necklace, and more. Check it out on her website!