More books by Mary Hooper
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PublisherBloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date5th July 2012
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Julia Eccleshare's comment:
A richly atmospheric novel set in the Victorian period and perfect for fans of the hugely popular Fallen Grace. Teens will love this romantic, thrilling and exciting new novel from the acclaimed and much loved historical novelist. It's also a perfect title for discussion at reading groups.
Mary Hooper on writing Velvet:
‘Having just written Fallen Grace, set in Victorian London, I had a stash of nineteenth-century bits and pieces in my head that I hadn’t yet touched upon. The most compelling of these was a longing to investigate further the whole spiritualist phenomenon that swept this country from the 1840s onwards.
'I usually like to base my books on true happenings, so began my research with the Old Bailey records (now online). I just typed in “fraudulent” and “mediums” and up they came: compulsive, mind-boggling, unbelievable. Reading them, it seemed impossible to think that anyone could really believe all those things that mediums helpfully conveyed from dead aunts and uncles. How could they be that naive? But they were, of course, just as people today fall for internet scams and “lottery wins” from far-flung countries. Every single medium investigated in those times, bar one, was found to be a fake. I decided to put my heroine in the house of the celebrated Madame Savoya and her good-looking valet, and see what happened . . . ’
Who is Julia Eccleshare ?
SynopsisVelvet by Mary Hooper
Velvet is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Velvet is desperate to create a better life for herself. Then Velvet is noticed by Madame Savoya, a famed medium, who asks Velvet to come to work for her. Velvet is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Velvet realises that Madame Savoya is not all that she says she is, and Velvet's very life is in danger ...
Praise for Fallen Grace:
'By any standards, an exceptional novel ... the gift for taking historical situations and making them emotionally engaging is far too rare ... after six historical novels, this one is Hooper's breakthrough and its characterisation, plotting and atmosphere are first-rate and deserve prizes ... Not since Philip Pullman's The Ruby in the Smoke has there been such a gorgeous evocation of Victorian life - or so satisfying a conclusion' - Amanda Craig, The Times
'At one stage (Grace) meets Charles Dickens, who might well have recognised some of the plot turns of this most satisfying read' - Independent on Sunday
'This wonderfully atmospheric story, set in Victorian London, will draw in teenage girls with its blend of sadness, hardship and redemption ... A sensitive and taughtly-plotted novel, intelligently told' - Daily Mail
About The Author
Says of herself: I was born in Barnes, South West London, which became expensive and trendy as soon as I left it. I often – nostalgically and rather lazily – use Barnes as a setting for my books. If I speak of a river then I’m thinking of the Thames, and if it’s a park or common then I picture Barnes Common. I was able to utilise all these local points and bring in Mortlake and Richmond, too, when I was writing two books about Queen Elizabeth I’s magician, Dr Dee, who lived in Mortlake.
I wasn’t very clever at school, although I was always good at English. I failed my 11-plus exam, and then my 13-plus, and after this there wasn’t a lot of hope for me, so I didn’t get any qualifications or certificates. My last school report says, “Far too noisy and talkative” and I think this was because, being an only child, I just loved having someone around to talk to. I left school when I was fifteen (you could in those days) but it wasn’t until many years later than I did a part-time degree at Reading University and began to get officially educated.
I started working as a window dresser, but soon went into an office and – very valuable, this, for a writer – learned to type. One day I read a short story, thought that I could do better and sat down and wrote one. I sent it to Jackie, a teenage magazine, and much to my surprise sold it for £14. I was launched as a writer! I went on to write lots of short stories, and then serials, and eventually decided to write a book. At the time, there were hardly any books for teenagers, so I found getting published quite easy, but it’s very different now. I’ve written perhaps seventy or so books for children and young adults, most of them set in modern times, but as soon as I began writing historical novels I realised how much I loved doing this, and decided I didn’t want to write any more modern ones. No, not even any Megans!
I’m married to Richard and we live in Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire. I’ve still got a VW Beetle, but have upgraded it to a cabriolet version, which will be lovely when the weather improves and I can put the top down (if I can remember how to do it). My children are very grown up, my son is a writer and works for New Scientist and my daughter works for Microsoft - and has recently presented me with a gorgeous first grandson, Mackenzie. I look after him on Wednesdays so don’t ever bother me then! My hobbies are reading (of course), pottering around the house, painting furniture and being nosy (which goes with being a writer).
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