Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Mad, Wicked Folly - Book Review

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Sharon Biggs Waller's A Mad, Wicked Folly is a YA novel, but it doesn't read like one. It's just as easy to include on an adult's fiction shelf as on a teen's shelf. (The book is actually age-graded for 12 and up, and I'd say that seems about right.)

It's also a book that fans of Downton Abbey will find intriguing!

The title of the book is taken from a quote by Queen Victoria calling the women's suffrage movement "a mad, wicked folly". So you can guess what one of the main themes is in this book.

Set in England 1909, the novel follows Victoria Darling, a 17-year-old who loves painting and only wants to attend the Royal College of Art. The trouble is, she's a girl and that's just not what women of her social class do! Victoria's parents refuse to allow their daughter to dream of anything else but marriage and motherhood, and headstrong Victoria doesn't make things especially easy for herself.

After a minor scandal, Victoria finds herself forced into an engagement with Edmund Carrick-Humphrey, who also endured a minor scandal and so, therefore, is unable to hold Victoria's scandal against her. Victoria thinks marrying will free her of her parents' reign and that Edmund will be the kind of husband who will let her attend college.

But she can't seem to shake the feeling she gets when she's around Police Constable Will Fletcher, whom Victoria befriends after they "meet cute" at a woman's suffrage demonstration. Will, a closet writer, believes in Victoria's talent as an artist, but even though Victoria knows Will is who she really loves, she also knows that she can't become an artist on a police constable's salary. And being a woman, she's unable to take a job, so she still needs her father's and her soon-to-be-husband's money.

As Victoria becomes more and more involved (albeit secretly) in the suffragette movement, she must come to terms with what and who she wants, reconciling it with what tradition and society want for her.

A Mad, Wicked Folly is published by Viking Juvenile and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

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