Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper


I really enjoy Historical Fiction so I was really drawn to the premise of this novel :

"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. Mary Hooper's latest offers Dickensian social commentary, as well as malicious fraud, mysterious secrets, and a riveting  " cover blurb
I was really drawn into this story and to Grace's journey. We meet grace as she is boarding the Necropolis Railway. She is there to secretly bury her stillborn son into the grave of a recently deceased Lady, Susannah Solent. After a brief discussion with the deceased brother James Grace returns to her life.
Graces life centers around the survival and protection of herself and her sister Lily. Though older Lily has the demeanor and intelligence of a young child. The two of them spend their days selling watercress and struggling to keep a roof over their heads, As winter approaches the two are devastated to find their home condemned and all their possessions stolen. Things get worse as the two spend the night at a local hostel and have their last bit of money and their shoes stolen. Mary is forced to take a job with the Unwin Family a disreputable funeral home. Unknown to the two girls there is an inheritance waiting for them and the Unwin's are determined to collect no matter what the cost.
Mary Hooper's prose style is  reminiscent of Dickens works but has a unique narrative voice and strong realised characters. There is an all enveloping feel for the time period and the situations the charters find themselves in . Hooper doesn't flinch from shedding light on the abuses existent in the orphanages and the workhouses of the period. Grace is such a strong character and her  struggle to hold her small family together is the emotional glue that bonds the reader to the narrative. There are plenty of plot twists ,  remorseless villains and heartache that culminate into a very satisfying ending.  

No comments: