Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fallen Grace

“Life has been nothing but unfair to Grace Parkes and her sister. Penniless, the two orphans manage to stay alive – but only barely, like so many on the streets of Victorian London. And Grace must bear a greater heartbreak, having become pregnant from terrible circumstances and then given birth to a stillborn baby. But the infant’s death sets Grace on a new path, bringing her into contact with people who hold both riches and power. A great fraud has been perpetrated on young Grace and her sister, and they are the secret recipients of a most unusual legacy – if only they can find the means to claim it. This breakout novel by Mary Hooper offers Dickensian social commentary, as well as malicious fraud, mysterious secrets, and a riveting read.” 

Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. It was a detailed look into the lives of those struggling to survive in the streets of London during the Victorian Age. It is also gave wonderful insight into the world of Victorian mourning and the protocol that people were supposed to follow after a death. I actually learned about it all while enjoying a good story, which is always a plus. The plot is interesting, although admittedly simple to figure out. The hints of romance were nice, but were conspicuously unfulfilled. I would be very interested in a sequel of this book, to tie up some of the loose ends that the introduction of a sort of romantic interest created.

I felt that the description of costume was rich and detailed. What was most interesting about the clothing in this book in particular was the focus on mourning wear. Along with other customs of mourning, clothing was a crucial way of showing others that you had lost someone dear to you. There were even levels of mourning: full mourning, half mourning, and quarter morning, that were supposed to be followed. This book also described the clothing of hired mutes, or professional mourners, which I found quite interesting. Hooper does a good job of getting the reader to picture what each person is wearing, even the supporting characters.

If you are at all interested in learning about Victorian mourning customs and costume, I would definitely recommend this book.

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