Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Title: A Mad, Wicked Folly
Author: Sharon Biggs Waller
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: January 23, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
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 Darlin, 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?

After having recently discovered the awesomeness that is Downton Abbey, I was told that Sharon Biggs Waller's A Mad, Wicked Folly was like if Sybil had gotten her own book. And that's how I was sold on the book. Once I started reading, I pretty much devoured A Mad, Wicked Folly.

All Victoria Darling really wants to do is draw. Away at finishing school in France, Vicky has found ways to sneak out and join an atelier so she can further her art. But when a classmate discovers that she has posed nude for her class, Vicky is sent back to London where her parents take away all her art supplies. But Vicky won't let that stop her. Determined to find a way to get into the Royal College of Art, Vicky agrees to marry Edmund Carrick-Humphrey, the boy her parents have chosen for her. But while out drawing a suffragette protest, Vicky meets Will Fletcher, a young police constable who seems sympathetic to the women's movement. The more her path crosses Will's, the more Vicky finds herself attracted to him. But being with a working-class boy goes against everything that's expected of Vicky. Is she willing to sacrifice it all and follow her heart?

When I was told that this book was comparable to Downton Abbey, if it were all about Sybil, I just knew I had to read Sharon Biggs Waller's A Mad, Wicked Folly. Reading the synopsis and finding out more about the story only reinforced that desire. Once I started reading, it didn't take long for me to know that I would love this story. And I did. I found myself getting sucked in to 1909 London, following the Suffragette Movement, and watching people start to break away from the class system. Sharon Biggs Waller really did her research. A Mad, Wicked Folly felt authentic and real, and I loved the way she presented it all. Seeing the changes happening in London society through Vicky's eyes added to that authenticity. In a way, the changes in society were mirrored in the ways Vicky was changing herself. It was interesting to then see the two sets of changes side by side. But if I'm being completely honest, what I loved most was seeing Vicky and Will's relationship grow and develop. And believe me when I stay that I was totally rooting for them.

Victoria Darling wasn't exactly a typical seventeen-year-old girl, especially no in 1909 London society. But that's what made her such an interesting character to read about. Vicky wasn't afraid to break out of the mold. She could typically be found doing the opposite of what was expected of her, and she thought for herself, something not many girls her age did at this time. But as rebellious as Vicky could be, she still struggled with the idea of leaving her comfortable life behind, and this struggle could be seen in her feelings towards Will. Will was a police constable, a working-class boy who hopes to one day be a writer. He's not the kind of boy Vicky should be spending time with and she knows that, but she can't seem to fight her attraction to him. And I loved seeing that relationship develop, and even if they shouldn't have been spending time together, you could tell they just really worked together. And I was TOTALLY rooting for them.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, you won't want to miss out on Sharon Biggs Waller's A Mad, Wicked Folly. This was a story I absolutely loved and it showed in just how quickly I raced through it. If I'm being honest, I would reread it in a heartbeat.

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