Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

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. 

Mary Hooper oh-so-comfortably captivates in FALLEN GRACE. From the out-set, the book feels authentic to the era, the atmosphere and setting and overall vibe are so Victorian London 

The tale has a Dickensian feel to it: the plot manages to weave it's way through street urchin-type life, to the lives of the incredibly posh upper class folks of the day.

While the story is constantly unravelling (the plot is quite pacy and from one chapter to the next a lot of things seem to go down) it still doesn't read like a tension-filled adventure-y read. It's a story you have to relax and settle yourself into.  

It *kind of* reminded me of some of Jeffrey Archer's tales ~ how he weaves characters paths across each other, fortunes shifting and foreshadowing is used to heightened effect. There's a mix of suspense ~ sometimes the reader is clued in to details the characters don't know (which is all very 'O.o can't wait to see what happens when they find out' and 'hurry up and find out already') and other times we are taken along for the ride, kept in the dark.

Despite the (multitude of) horrendous and sorrowful things that occurred to our (spirited and enduring) protagonists ~ the story did not feel all grief-y and drowning-in-my-sorrows. It was actually a fun kind of read, like settling into a storyteller of old around a campfire and drifting away into another time and era.

Oh! Final note: I liked the random stuff in there (eg: like Grace becoming a muse ~ someone employed to attend funerals, doning a sorrowful and haunting manner to add to the atmosphere of the graveside service O.o ~ creepy [but cool]). There's plenty of random asides that add authenticity and are ever-so-curious.

Fallen Grace is available in Australia now

Fallen Grace @ Bloomsbury Australia
Fallen Grace @ goodreads

Thanks to Bloomsbury for providing the review copy


  1. These two words - " Dickensian feel" - are enough to convince me to read any book. I love books set in Victorian London. Great review, Nomes! I have to read this book.

  2. I've seen this book around the blogosphere, but no one so far has made me want to read it. After this review, I reallyreallyreally want it. Plus I am a geek when it comes to foreshadowing. Like books heavy with really well done foreshadowing = <3.

    Great review! :)

  3. Oh, it sounds amazing that despite all the bad, this isn't a woe is me book. :)
    I want to give them props for it!

    And I'm very glad to hear it because the fact that it sounded like a serious of fatalities sort of kept me from getting more interested on it, but I'll be on the look out for it now.

  4. This sounds like a really good book. New follower :D

  5. Victorian London and Dickensian certainly seem to be one in the same, so it's good to know there was tie to both.

    Woe is me can be pretty fun (or at least I think so), but the upbeat nature despite the sorrow presented here seems like it was well done.

    Thanks for the review Nomes.

  6. I really enjoyed this Nomes! Good to see that you did too :)

  7. So looking forward to reading this one, thank you for sending it to me :D


  8. You did a great job reviewing this Nomes :)

  9. That cover is gorgeous, plus I'm a total sucker for anything Victorian so I'll have to add this to my tbr list!

  10. The randomness sounds so cool! Employed to be at a funeral...WOW! Great review!

  11. I've heard that this one was interesting and I have it on my TBR list, but for some reason I haven't been all that inclined to pick it up any time soon. Perhaps I should!


Thanks for the commenty love :)