Friday, 25 June 2010

Review: Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover
Released: June 7th, 2010
Grade rating: A

Amazon summary:

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. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet...


This is the first book I've read by Mary Hooper, though she has been on my radar for quite a while. For some reason I've just never been drawn to her stories and, had I not received a review copy of Fallen Grace, I'm quite sure I wouldn't have picked it up. It's reasons like this - being introduced to new authors and genres - that make me glad to be a blogger, and I'd like to say a big thanks to Bloomsbury for prompting me to read such a brilliant author.

Fallen Grace is set in England in the 1800s, which I believe is the Victorian era. I'll admit I'm not too good on my own country's historical periods, though thanks to books like this, I'm finally learning all about them. For this reason, I found Fallen Grace to be very educational, and I loved learning about the state of London and the way people lived. For example, I never knew that the whole country went into mourning when a member of the Royal Family died, or that so many horribly kept workhouses existed. Being poor was obviously worse than I thought it was.

What I loved most about Fallen Grace was Hooper's way of describing people, surroundings and London's general way of life. Time and time again the imagery was so vivid that I felt like I'd been transported back to the 1860s, with no shoes on my feet and a suffocating fog sweeping the city. When an author can truly make me believe in their writing like that, I know they're something special.

Hooper's characters were cleverly mastered and richly layered, and all as vividly realised as the city they inhabited. Grace was loving and selfless, even though she was dealing with something no-one should ever have to face. Lily was more simple and easily led, though she proved loyal and more intelligent than she seemed. Even the bad guys were written in such a way that I couldn't help but feel sorry for their sorry state of affairs, yet relieved at their outcome. I imagine they all took a long time to bring to life, and the effort and time spent on each individual story really showed in the writing.

At this moment in time, I honestly don't have a bad thing to say about Fallen Grace. It's opened my eyes to the historical YA genre, and has reminded me that it's good to branch out and try new authors and books. Mary Hooper is a fantastic writer, and I'll be reading more by her as soon as possible.


Kay (Dead Book Darling) said...

Wow - you really enjoyed this one! To be honest, I wasn´t even considering it - despite having seen it in almost every bookstore´s 3 for 2. But after reading this, I have to say I´m tempted. I love it when an author can write a good bad-guy... it´s a rather rare feat!

Kate Evangelista said...

This is such an interesting concept for a novel. I think I need to consider it.

Meredith said...

This sounds amazing! I haven't read historical fiction in a while, but I'd love to see what 1860s England was like :) Thanks for the review!

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I haven't read any of Mary Hooper's histirical books but I have read her comtemporary Megan series which I loved. I think I should reintroduce myself to this author! Thanks for the great review, Jenny!

Andrea said...

Sounds fantastic! I hadn't heard of it, but the concept is interesting.

I Want To Read That said...

Great review Jenny. I even more excited about this one now:)

Iffath♥Ahmed said...

Great review! I just finished this one yesterday, I really enjoyed it :)

Ladybug said...

I have Fallen Grace on my wishlist, after reading this review I think I might have to buy it very, very soon. I really like historical fiction, I just don't read it all that often. Thank you for the wonderful review, Jenny!

I know a bit about that time period mainly, I think, because I'm so interested in genealogy and have been watching several episodes of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? I remember one of the celebrities they featured discovered that his/hers great grandmother lived in a workhouse with her children. It sounded awful.

Becky said...

Oh this is wonderful! I am pratically drooling now. I am in historical mode and I will have to read this asap now. I have had a bit of an obsession with books that are set in the city. It was part of my specialism at uni but I won't bore you. I feel a little bit crazy with the need to pick this up. It has just moved much closer to the top of my review pile. I'm waffling. Sorry! You've sent me a little crazy ;-)