Monday, 15 August 2011
Review: Fallen Grace - Mary Hooper
Grace Parkes, a pale but determined figure, clutches a precious bundle closely to her. Grace has a heartbreaking duty to carry out . . .
Every day Grace must find a new way of earning enough money to pay the rent for the bleak, cold room that she and her sister live in, and to buy them enough - just - to eat.
But there is another danger threatening Grace, a danger linked to an event in her past that she is desperate to forget. Grace has caught the eye of the Unwins, an unscrupulous family whose shady business dealings are those of death and mourning. The Unwins will stop at nothing to defraud Grace of what is rightfully hers . . .
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Grace and Lily are orphans who struggle every day to earn enough money to pay their rent and buy even the smallest meal. Life isn't easy but they have each other and Grace is determined to do whatever it takes to keep them out of the work house. An unfortunate change in circumstance forces them to turn to the Unwin's for help, Grace may not like working for the unscrupulous family's funeral business but it is her only option and at least this way Lily will be safe. But are the Unwins really all they seem or have Grace and Lily put themselves into their most dangerous situation yet?
I have been really enjoying historical fiction recently and Fallen Grace was definitely a book that had me hooked from the moment I picked it up. From the opening chapter it is easy to feel sympathy for Grace, my heart bled for her throughout the difficult task she has to perform and from that moment on I was willing things to work out for her. Although Grace is in a difficult situation she always does her best to stick to her principles and she has a strong will to survive. She is no weak heroine who sits around waiting for someone to rescue her and is very reluctant to ask for help even when she desperately needs it.
Lily may be the older sister but in reality she is a child trapped in a teenager's body and needs Grace to look after her. She is such a sweet character and someone you want to look out for but I was impressed with the patience that Grace shows towards her because she ends up getting into quite frustrating situations. Lily adores her sister and would be completely lost without her but in her own way Grace needs Lily just as much. I loved the relationship between the two of them and I also loved the way that Lily proved that she isn't quite as stupid as some people think she is.
The setting of the book is wonderfully described and you are transported back to Victorian London. Before reading this story I knew practically nothing about the lavish Victorian funeral traditions and found them fascinating to read about. I was thoroughly sickened by the Unwins and the way they took advantage of grieving relatives to earn as much money as they could from them. It is a testament to Mary Hooper's writing that I literally wanted to climb inside the book and punch someone, I love it when an author can make me feel that strongly about the bad guys!
Fallen Grace is a beautifully written story and one that I would highly recommend to fans of historical fiction. It is a book that shows just how difficult it was for the poor to survive in Victorian England and makes you feel relieved not to have lived in the 19th century. Overall though Grace and Lily's tale is one of survival and hope.
Source: Received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review
Other reviews of this book:
Heaven, Hell & Purgatory Book Reviews
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