Highly Commended for the Teenage Book Prize 2010. A brilliant historical adventure full of the sights and smells and especially the deaths of the past. Courageous Grace ducks and weaves doing any work she can to earn enough to keep her and her younger sister alive. Their living is dangerous and Grace needs to keep her wits about her at all times especially when she knows that the powerful Unwin family are desperate to get their hands on something she owns. Grace’s world is vividly recreated and she is a powerful and convincing heroine.
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.
'This wonderfully atmospheric story, set in Victorian London, will draw in teenage girls with its blend of sadness, hardship and redemption ... a sensitive and tautly-plotted novel, intelligently told'
'Nobody tells a story like Mary Hooper does. Her ability to make the lives of girls in times past come alive for the modern reader is a special skill. As well as her superb grasp of period settings, she revels in extraordinary and fascinating human stories that cry out to be told. Such lives could not be in better hands' - John McLay, Director, Bath Festival of Children's Literature
'An exceptional, highly involving and affecting tale that is definitely a must read for 2010' - Jake Hope, YLG and The Bookseller
'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
|Publication date:||6th June 2011|
|Publisher:||Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
|Suitable for:||13+ readers|
|Recommendations:||Books of the Month|
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 ...More About Mary Hooper