Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Title: A Mad, Wicked Folly
Author: Sharon Biggs Waller
Series: n/a
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: January 23, 2014
Source: borrowed from Heather - Thanks!
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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?



Women's suffrage, art, and a feisty heroine combine in this historical fiction to create one insanely readable piece of literature that explores girl power to the utmost. Sure, there's a romance (or two!) but it was the focus on women's rights  -- to vote, where the arts are concerned, and in the world at large -- that captivated me. Sharon Biggs Waller has certainly done her research, and I felt incensed on behalf of her characters on more than one occasion. After reading this novel, I also feel incredibly blessed to have the freedoms that I do, and I am grateful to all those who fought for my right to have them.

My favorite aspect of this novel, though, is how Vicky Darling found herself among the suffragettes in the first place. She was a reluctant addition to their group, not because she was not sympathetic to their plight but because she had goals and aspirations of her own, and she wasn't about to let anyone get in her way. Sadly, it was the very thing the suffragettes worked for -- women's rights, or the lack thereof -- that threatened to put an end to Vicky's dreams. And as Vicky struggles to take control of her own life, she meets so many young women who help put her predicament into perspective. Those friendships among political activists, artists, lady's maids, etc., only strengthened the message of this story. There is some pretty serious girl power between the pages of this story, and I can't help but feel that other young adult novels might benefit more from concentrating less on the romantic aspects and more on the other relationships in a story.

I think that through intense research and the author's bewitching prose, the Edwardian time period is represented beautifully in this story. Not only is it depicted through descriptions of the fashions of that time, but it is also reflected in the rigid class system and the women's suffrage movement that was reaching a fever pitch as this story unfolded. I also very much appreciated the importance of art as it was expressed in this story. It's clear that Waller scrutinized every detail of her story to the nth degree to make it as realistic and honest a portrayal as possible.

I was further endeared by Vicky's portrayal as a would-be suffragette. This young woman is an open-minded free spirit, trapped by the constraints dictating a young woman's life during this time period. Vicky's marriage is arranged for her, to someone she does not love. She is not allowed to pursue her artistic endeavors but is encouraged to take on social obligations befitting a young lady of her status and upbringing. And not once does anyone ever ask Vicky what she wants. I cannot even fathom having every aspect of my life plotted out for me without any input from me, and yet, Vicky tries to conform.

She accepts that she is to marry Edmund, all the while developing feelings for the lowly police captain who empathizes with the suffragettes and who saved her from certain incarceration when she first returned to London. And although this sounds like the makings for one of those loathsome love triangles, I assure you, it is clear from the onset where Vicky's heart lies, and although she attempts to do what is expected of her, she never truly wavers. Honestly, I don't think any girl could help but fall for the caring and understanding Will, though. As a writer and conscientious young man, he is the perfect companion for the willful and artistic Victoria Darling.

If it's not obvious already, I kind of loved this novel. I loved Vicky's willingness not only to stand against the injustices against women of that time but also her willingness to defy her parents and make her own way in the world. I loved how well-researched all the topics explored in this story were and how despite all that, I sometimes forgot I was even reading a historical novel as I observed these events through Vicky's perspective. But what I loved most of all is that even though this story is set in the early 1900s, it is still so relevant to today's youth because at its core, it is still ultimately a coming-of-age story about breaking free from everyone else's expectations and following your own dreams.

GIF it to me straight:
This book is rocking some serious girl power!



About the author:

Sharon Biggs Waller grew up around artists and developed a passion for Edwardian history and the Pre-Raphaelites when she moved to England in 2000. She did extensive research on the British suffragettes for her novel, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY when she wasn’t working as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. She also writes non-fiction books about horses under her maiden name, Sharon Biggs. She is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a 10-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark.

Find Sharon:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Facebook


21 comments:

  1. I kind of love this novel too, and I haven't even read it yet. But I will, and SOON. Wonderful review :)

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    1. Thanks, and you soooo should. Especially if you're *already* feeling the love for it. ;)

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  2. This was a fantastic and highly enjoyable novel. Vicky and Will were adorable together. Lovely review, Jen!

    Aimee @ Read by the Undead

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    1. Vicky and Will were perfect! Gotta love those good boys. :)

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  3. I haven't read this one yet. There seems to be a general consensus of how wonderful it is though. I am looking forward to reading her 'kickassery'. Lol.

    Great review.

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    1. Oh, she is kickass in the best possible way! I was kind of expecting a ninny but she was so feisty and awesome.

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  4. I adored this one as well! I really enjoyed the historical time period and I agree: so well researched. I felt similarly about the focus not being all about the romance and more on Vicky's own journey as a woman in an oppressive time period. I loved her realistic strength and her willingness to pursue her own dreams. I will read everything Sharon Biggs Waller writes! Beautiful review, Jen!

    Sabrina @ I Heart Y.A. Fiction

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    1. Me, too...this so didn't feel like a debut, but it's all the more impressive because it is. I wonder what she'll write next?!?

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  5. great review. I loved this book took. You said it all just how i felt it.

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    1. I'm so happy to see so much love for this novel!

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  6. I've been seeing this one around and it's eye catching because of her bright yellow dress. I love yellow, its my fav color and I kinda want to read it just for that fact alone. :o)

    lol at that gif.. there is now way Aubrey would have ever rode in hers like that, she would have freaked, Scared of everything.

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    1. Green's my favorite, but yellow is a very close second. :) I love that the cover is not *just* a girl in a pretty dress. It's really quite gorgeous.

      Oh, Katie can be a scaredy-cat and she can be a dare devil...you never know what you're going to get from one minute to the next, but I am positive she would pull a stunt like that. Especially considering she smoke bombed the entire neighbor hood at New Year's when we tied a super smoke bomb to the back of her Jeep and she drove in circles, kicking up so much smoke. I have the video somewhere...lol.

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  7. I heard this book is full of awesome girl power! I'm so excited to read this. The Edwardian time period is definitely really interesting and Will sounds so charming! I'm glad you really enjoyed it! Great review!

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    1. SO FULL of the awesome girl power. But everything about this book was pretty awesome. :)

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  8. I feel like this is the perfect book to just pump your fist in the air. GIRL POWAAAA. I so love the sound of this. Not just the wicked girl power, but even the fact that this time period was so well researched and the setting was portrayed beautifully. I'm VERY excited to read this and now even more so after your lovely review, Jen!

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    1. It so is, Summer! I think that's exactly how Heather described it to me when she offered to let me borrow it, too. :) I definitely think you'd enjoy this novel, too.

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  9. I haven't heard of this book before, but I so want to read it now! Thanks for the great review!

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    1. This is what I love about the blogging community...sharing and introducing other readers to great new books! :)

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  10. شركة نقل عفش بالرياض وجدة والدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
    شركة نقل عفش بمكة
    شركة نقل عفش بينبع

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