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Fallen Grace - Mary Hooper
Member Name: nixtee
Fallen Grace - Mary Hooper
Advantages: A good read, gritty, atmospheric.
Disadvantages: Adult readers might assume this book is just for teenagers, but it's a good read for adults too.
In Victorian London, Grace is having to do what no-one should, bury her child. Following advice from a kind midwife and to save the baby from being buried in a pauper's grave, Grace places his small body in the coffin of a rich lady's coffin to be buried in Brookwood Cemetery. There she meets two people, James Solent and Mrs Unwin, both of whom will have a profound affect on her life in the months to follow.
Grace can't dwell on the death of her baby, instead she must continue as before, scraping together enough money to be fed and to keep a roof over her and her sister, Lily. But even this sorry life is shattered and Grace & Lily are thrown to the mercy of a manipulative family.
I had wanted to read another of Mary Hooper's books ever since reading Newes from the Dead last year, so when I saw the Fallen Grace at £2.49 for the Kindle edition, I just had to buy it. I also decided I'd dive straight into it and I enjoyed it so much that I finished reading it on the same day. It's a rare occasion for me to sit and read a whole book in a day!
(Just one note regarding the Kindle edition: The beginning of each chapter has a small illustration such as an announcement or tombstone epitaph. I found I could only just read the text on the illustration and suspect they are easier to read in the print editions of the book).
Mary Hooper has a knack for historical fiction. The scenes in Fallen Grace are atmospheric and I found myself easily imagining being in Victorian London at the time. We get to see both sides of the coin - the people who are scraping by, doing anything they can to get themselves fed, to keep a roof over their heads and to stay out of the workhouse, as well as those who don't have to worry about money ,yet never seem to be satisfied with what they've got.
As with Newes from the Dead, Mary Hooper has done her research of the period Fallen Grace is set in and we're given notes at the end of the book (though they're not needed to enjoy the story). Of course, as with any author, Mary Hooper has used a little artistic license in regards to history in some areas.
Despite her circumstances, the main character, Grace, is strong and determined. She has to be to get through the tragic life that has been dealt to her and to care for her sister. Grace's sister Lily is, in fact, Grace's older sister, yet comes across as a much younger sister due to being incapable of looking after herself. Lily provides a bit of light to the story with her child-like naivety.
The reader also meets a number of other characters throughout the story. Some aren't to be trusted, but we learn that not everyone has an agenda. I found Grace to be a good judge of character, but Lily not so much!
There's more than one story strand to Fallen Grace and as the story goes on they all become entwined. I had guessed how one of those strands might end, and I'd guessed correctly, but that didn't detract from the story at all.
Fallen Grace has been written for teenagers, but I think it is enjoyable for teenagers and adults of any age. I've certainly never let a guidance age put me off reading a book. If you're looking for an easy-to-read, interesting and gritty historical novel, then I'd definitely recommend giving this book a go. If you've read another of Mary Hooper's historical novels, then your bound to enjoy this one too. If you've never read a Mary Hooper book, then why not give this one a go?
(Please note: this review also features on my blog).
Summary: Overall, a good book set in Victorian London.