So, yesterday I decided that I would venture into East London to go to Amnesty International’s £1 book sale! My husband went with me because I had never really been to East London, and he was hoping to find some books for his history and politics course.
Aaand because we went by train, I had loads of time to read! I started and finished Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper yesterday.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant’s body in a rich lady’s coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper’s grave.
Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound effect upon Grace’s life. But Grace doesn’t know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune.
A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.
I think the synopsis makes it sound more exciting than it actually is. I mean, it’s an interesting book, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it. However, I think I was more impressed by the placing of the characters in a historical situation and learning about the history of funerals and funeral preparations through these characters than the actual storyline itself.
You can tell that Mary Hooper researched thoroughly for this novel, and she even provides a bibliography at the end of the text. The book features a cameo appearance from Charles Dickens and Albert and Victoria. It has a very Dickens-like story feel to it. Like I said, I found the research to be entertaining, but the characters were a little “meh” for me. I felt for the characters, the writing is good, but I just couldn’t… I don’t know, I just wasn’t completely engrossed. The only reason I finished it in a day was because I had so much time to read and I didn’t want to have to finish the book in the morning.
I would call that more laziness than excitement.
That being said, though, I will be ordering some more of the author’s books. I saw that she has a series about a girl working in the house of John Dee, who I find to be fascinating. I’ve chosen to speak about him for a presentation I have to do for an interview! Wait – did I forget to mention that I have not ONE but TWO interviews this coming week?? Someplace historic where I’ll get to put some of my degree to use – I hope! But wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed.
Anywho, the author’s website can be found here.