A Mad, Wicked Folly
AUTHOR: Sharon Biggs Waller
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: January 23rd 2014
EDITION: Hardcover, 448 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Review, 5 Stars, Historical Fiction, Romance, Art, Feminism, Coming of Age, Cultural
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.96/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist – a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art, her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse – or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?
MY THOUGHTS: Considering historical fiction is one of my top genres to read, and I was an art major in college, I didn’t think there could be anything to make me dislike this story – and guess what? I was right, because I adored this book! Like wanted to hug it to my chest and dance around my room with it, loved it!
Let’s talk about how amazing Vicky’s character is. She is so strong willed and dream driven that nothing – and no one – will stop her from getting what she wants! At the beginning of the book Vicky did what she was passionate about, but was still held back by her station in life, thanks to her wealthy upbringing. Once she’s kicked out of her school in France and moves back to London, Vicky finds herself living the life she’s always wanted – except she’s doing it in secret.
I am not very knowledgeable about the suffragette movement, so that was an aspect of the book that I quite enjoyed. To see how these women fought and endured for their freedom – the freedom we as women still benefit from today – is quite incredible. And to have Vicky become a part of that world makes me see her as an even stronger character than I had already come to see her as.
Another wonderful character is Sophie Cumberbunch, Vicky’s lady maid. She is living a similar “Hidden” life like Vicky is forced to – keeping her involvement in the WSPU a secret so that she may gain employment with families such as the Darlings. It is Sophie who really helps Vicky become the person she wants to be. She dresses her in art-centered clothing to bring out Vicky’s passion for art. She helps her sneak out to WSPU events and also art events under the guise of charity work. Luckily Sophie gets her happily ever after at the end, because she really deserves it!!
The romance that blossoms between Vicky and Will is so real and believable. It wasn’t a passing fancy, no matter how hard Vicky tries to convince herself that she doesn’t love him, and can make herself love her fiance, Edmund. It’s sad that at this time in history, this is probably how a lot of young women felt.
This book is a wonderful read, and I would recommend it really, to anyone!! The only thing I noticed that kind of upset me, is that it seemed to end a little abruptly. I wasn’t ready to end my adventures with Vicky yet! But we get a nice ending with sufficient closure, so there really isn’t much for me to complain about there.