My fabulous editor, Leila Sales, sent me this review from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, which will appear in their January edition. For those that don’t know, the BCCB is one of the country’s leading book reviewers helping librarians and educators choose books for young readers. Thank you, BCCB!
Waller, Sharon Biggs
A Mad, Wicked Folly. Viking, 2014 [448p]
ISBN 978-0-670-01468-2 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12
Seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling’s decision to pose nude for an art class sets London’s society ablaze with gossip in 1909, and she is immediately brought home from her Parisian finishing school to quell the scandal and begin to rebuild her reputation. Vicky, however, would much rather focus on her art than ladylike behavior, and she begins the arduous (and in her case, necessarily discreet) process of applying to the Royal College of Art, an endeavor that eventually leads Vicky to throw in her lot with the suffragettes. A budding romance with a working-class police officer complicates matters further, and Vicky is soon forced to decide between her artistic and romantic passions and the comfortable life her father’s wealth will afford her. An author’s note and bibliography reveals Waller’s extensive research, and she builds on the facts with a storyteller’s flair, deftly incorporating historical details (the gossip surrounding King Edward’s love life, the grassroots strategizing of the suffragettes) into this compelling coming-of-age tale that’s as good as any British period drama. Vicky is ahead of her time but not anachronistic (her initial suspicion of the suffragettes, for instance, is highly plausible), and her romance with the cop is sweet but refreshingly not always the focus. Her ultimate decision to follow her heart may not be terribly surprising, but the Edwardian world here is so immersive and Vicky so likable that readers will want to put on the kettle on and settle in for a lovely read. KQG