Monday 5 September 2011

Review: Velvet - Mary Hooper

Velvet is an orphan.  She struggles to make ends meet by working in a steam laundry, where the work is back-breaking and exhausting.  So when she attracts the attention of the glamorous clairvoyant Madame Savoya, she cannot believe her good fortune.

Raised to the status of Lady's maid, Velvet is given elegant clothes to wear and is brought to live in a grand house in London.  But the longer she works for Madame Savoya, the more she discovers about the mysterious world of a spiritual medium.  Velvet soon realises that her employer is not quite what she seems and that this knowledge could put her very life in danger . . .

Visit Mary Hooper's website for more information

Life as an orphan isn't easy for Velvet and she has to work long gruelling hours in the laundry just to survive.  Getting the chance to work as a lady's maid for clairvoyant Madame Savoya is her chance to move up in the world.  Velvet is excited to be away from the laundry but the more she learns about her new boss the more suspicious she becomes.  Is Madame Savoya all she really seems to be and if she isn't what should Velvet do about it?

I really enjoyed Mary Hooper's book Fallen Grace so was excited to get my hands on a copy of Velvet and couldn't wait to start reading.  The stories are both set in Victorian London and although they are both about very different subject matters they both capture the era perfectly.  I love Mary Hooper's writing style which is both descriptive and very easy to read.  She is able to pull you completely into her world and has a way of writing characters that are easy to relate to and care about.

Velvet is a great heroine and an interesting mixture of streetwise (she had to be to survive her upbringing) and naive (especially when it comes to her new boss).  Although there were times I almost wanted to shake some sense into her it was easy to understand why Velvet was so keen to believe the best in her boss.  After the things she had been through she desperately wanted to believe that her new and better life was real.  When she starts to become suspicious she refuses to sit back and ignore things though - she has a good sense of right and wrong and is determined not to be a part of anything dishonest.

I have read about the Victorian spiritualist community before and find the methods that clairvoyants have used to trick people into believing they are genuine fascinating.  The tricks of the trade so to speak were truly inventive, if despicable, in the way they took advantage of grieving relatives.  What I had never heard about before were the baby farms and that added a horrific element to the story - it is awful to think that things like that really happened and it makes me glad that I'm not living in Victorian times.  Velvet is a fantastic read and one that I'm sure will be popular with fans of historical fiction - if you have any interest in the Victorian way of life or clairvoyants then this is definitely a book I would recommend picking up.  I'm also adding Mary Hooper to my must buy list of authors and am looking forward to working my way through her back list and picking up anything she writes in the future.

Source: Received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
Read In A Single Sitting
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.


  1. I've read loads of positive things about this book. I really must pick this one up.

    Great review!

  2. I got this the other day, looking forward to it even more now!

  3. It is utterly brilliant isn't it. I can't wait to read more of her books.

  4. Sounds great. Adding to my list x

  5. how funny we both review this within 24 hrs of each other - loved this one and then picked up fallen grace and loved that too!

  6. I fell in Love with Mary Hoopers writing when I read Fallen Grace! I cant wait to read this one too!

  7. @ Jules - I'd definitely recommend giving this one a try, I'm really enjoying Mary Hooper's historical novels & am looking forward to reading more of them :o)

    @ Dot - I can't wait to see what you think of this one, I hope you like it as much as I did!

    @ Viv - Mary is such a fab writer & like you I'm looking forward to working through some of her backlist :o)

    @ Susan - sorry to add to your list but it'll be worth it I promise lol

    @ Kirsty - we seem to be doing that a bit recently, we must be reading the same things :o) I really liked Fallen Grace too & have to go & buy some of Mary's other historical novels now

    @ Raimy - If you liked Fallen Grace then I'm sure you'll love this one too, I can't wait to see what you think of it!

  8. I adored this one, too :) Hooper is one of my favourites for the year.

    Here's my review, if you're interested:

  9. @ Stephanie - Mary is a fabulous writer isn't she, I'm definitely going to be working my way through her backlist :o) I've added a link to your review & am just about to go and read it now!

  10. Thanks so much, Sarah! I did an interview with Mary as well, if you're interested. She's such an interesting writer!



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