How did I get it?:
I bought it!
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 affect 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 remember Luna reviewing this book a while back and immediately adding it to my to be read list. It just looked like my sort of book. So when it popped up on the Luna’s Picks features, I knew I had to pick it for my choice of book to read this month. I’m so glad I did, because I think Fallen Grace is a fantastic piece of young adult historical fiction. It’s engaging and well-paced with two sisters I immediately cared for.
Fallen Grace follows sisters Grace and Lily who are struggling to survive in poverty. Grace is mourning the loss of a child that she was forced to have. We first experience Grace when she is taking her stillborn baby to a cemetery so the baby doesn’t have a pauper’s grave. At the graveyard she meets the Unwins, a family who later offer Grace and Lily a place to work and sleep. Grace takes a job as a ‘mute’ a professional mourner who doesn’t say anything, but attends funerals and looks sad. Lily is considered too ‘simple’ to be a mute, so she is trained to be a housemaid. Grace and Lily’s employers aren’t what they seem, they have a motif which the reader learns about fairly early on.
I liked that there were twists and turns in the story. I was incredibly intrigued to find out what was going to happen to two characters that I cared for. Grace and Lily are just so easy to like and root for.
I was really impressed with the writing in this story. Mary Hooper transported me to the Victorian era and I could picture everything that went on. Fallen Grace is a beautiful piece of Victorian historical fiction. I thought it was incredibly gritty and true to the times. Mary Hooper doesn’t shy away from exploring what the era was like.
Would I recommend it?: