Life has been nothing but unfair to Grace Parkes and her sister. Penniless, the two orphans manage to stay alive-but only barely, like so many on the streets of Victorian London. And Grace must bear a greater heartbreak, having become pregnant from terrible circumstances and then given birth to a stillborn baby. But the infant's death sets Grace on a new path, bringing her into contact with people who hold both riches and power. A great fraud has been perpetrated on young Grace and her sister, and they are the secret recipients of a most unusual legacy-if only they can find the means to claim it. Mary Hooper's latest offers Dickensian social commentary, as well as malicious fraud, mysterious secrets, and a riveting read.
The story starts with young Grace Parkes, on a journey to Brookwood Cemetery. The unfortunate death of her newborn son has forced her to bring the lifeless body of her infant to be buried. Grace is only sixteen years old, and as far as anyone thinks in the 1800's, she is considered a fallen woman. No one will want to love her now, knowing that she has given birth out of wedlock. As sad as this time is for Grace, she knows that she wouldn't be able to care for the baby, because she can barely afford to care for herself and her sister Lily.
Each day Grace and Lily go out and buy watercress to sell on the streets of Victorian London. It's not a stable job, but it makes them enough money to pay their weekly rent and to put food in their mouths, most of the time. When things become to tough, Grace must make some decisions that will change her and her sister's lives forever. Accepting a job from a woman she met while at Brookwood Cemetery, she becomes a mute for a funeral home. The job is depressing, as it is her job to mourn the death of every dead person that they are to bury. While Grace works at the funeral home, the owners of the home, the Unwins, take her sister in as a maid in their family home. Grace barely sees her sister, and begins to become suspicious of some of the things that have been going on with the Unwin family.
Grace thinks it best to contact Mr. Solent, a man who had pressed her to contact him if she ever was in need of help. With his help she finds out some disturbing and somewhat relieving news. It's up to the two of them to blow the lid off a huge scandal, and restoring a fortune to it's rightful owner.
I'll have to admit that this book didn't capture me as much as I was hoping that it would. I normally fall into historical novels and can't get out of them because they are just so engrossing. The only thing that engrossed me about this novel was the fact that the author clearly researched the era before writing about it. At times I felt like I was truly walking through the streets of London, as the descriptions of the surroundings were perfect.
I didn't really feel as though I connected with any of the characters, except maybe Grace, but only in the aspect that by losing a child she was in constant grief. I myself am pregnant, and don't know what I would do under those circumstances, and pray that I won't have to feel that sort of pain. Other than that I couldn't really feel much toward any of the characters, and at times caught myself skipping parts of the story looking for something a little more interesting. I rarely skip full pages in a book, but it was the only way I was going to finish this one, because I felt that the story was creeping along far too slowly.
I was disappointed in this book, but I did manage to finish it, out of curiosity and the history that was jammed into the pages. I will not let this one book by this author prevent me from reading more from her in the future, because her writing style is quite beautiful. The writing and amount of detail that went into this story makes me believe that I just happened to pick up the wrong book by this author, and I'm sure she will give me a good story next time.
Despite my low rating, I encourage you to go out and read this book. There have been many great reviews for this title, and I think that you may either love or dislike this book. I unfortunately did the latter in these circumstances.
Where did I get this book? : I received this book from Kate at Bloomsbury Kids publishing house in exchange for my honest review for a blog tour.
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Jenni @ Falling Off The Shelf
I'm 23 years old, and engaged to the love of my life. I love reading, and so I created my own book review blog. I read and review books that have been offered to me by authors and publicists, as well as books I have bought and swapped.