I just finished reading Fallen Grace, by Mary Hooper
This book is more middle grade than YA, but I think it can be serious enough to be a nice YA-aged read as well.
"Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her 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 think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister."
So it’s no surprise that I love reading books set in Victorian London (ok so maybe The Infernal Devices doesn’t count). That time frame was an interesting point in history that can provide an amazing scenery for storytelling.
This particular book is about Grace, a 15/16-year-old girl who, with her slow-minded sister, Lily, are trying to make a living for themselves since their mother died. Grace lost a baby and meets several people that help her go through life one day at a time. Eventually, she and her sister started working for the Unwins – a family in the business of death and funerals.
I’m not too sure what to think of this book. To be fair I just needed something easy to read to relax my mind from university stress so I wasn’t exactly reading it for review. But nonetheless, I’ll do my best!
I found Grace as a character to be admirable in everything she did, but otherwise somewhat boring. She was amazing in the way she took care of her older sister, and how she managed to go through the loss of her child, but I couldn’t feel her personality through the pages. Lily was a little more interesting, but I would have really loved chapters told in her point of view, to see how her mind worked from herself rather than from how everyone else saw it.
The story itself was quite simple but that is expected from an MG book. In that sense, I think that it was written really well! It was literarily available to read for younger readers and presents deeper and darker ideas to them without overdoing it (like I believe is done in the Perks of being a Wallflower), as well as presenting a historical aspect to fiction. I would recommend this book to younger readers for that purpose alone! It's a great introduction to the darker side of Victorian England.
I found the villain of the story to be intriguing. There were so many bad things happening in the background of the book, and it was nice to have them all linked back to one source rather than having a typical confusing list of sources. And the way that the villain is caught is kind of great!
Overall I found this read enjoyable, despite being slightly lacking on the character front. But if you've been reading my reviews for a while now, you know how much I adore intricate characters!
I am giving this book a 3.5/5 feathers! Nice story, a little too simple and light on the details for me personally.
Have you read Fallen Grace? What did you think about it? Please let me know!