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Velvet Paperback – 5 Jul 2012

21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747599203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747599203
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 210,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Hooper has been writing books for nearly thirty years. And before that she was writing short stories. Her early books about a pregnant teenager: MEGAN, are still very popular, one teacher calling the three books a "rite of passage".

Over the last five or so years she has been writing nothing but historical fiction, mostly for young adults, although NEWES FROM THE DEAD was actually written for an adult audience. This book has won several awards, including both the Hull and the Stockport Book Awards. The historian and novelist Alison Weir said that NEWES was "Stunning!" There are even plans to turn it into a musical, though if you know the content of the book you'll conclude that it would be a very unusual one.

Mary's book set in a Victorian undertaker's is called FALLEN GRACE and comes out in the UK in June 2010 and in the US a little later. Lucy Mangan, Guardian columnist, called it "Bloody Marvellous!" Her latest book is called VELVET and is about a 19th century medium. THE DISGRACE OF KITTY GREY is Mary's first Regency novel and will be published in May 2013.

Mary has a fan page on Facebook and her own website.

Product Description


Hooper's storylines pack a 21st-century punch . . . Historical fiction worthy of the genre (Amanda Foreman New York Times)

Praise for Velvet:

Powerfully plotted . . . almost a teen version of Sarah Waters' Affinity with a bit of Jacqueline Wilson's Hetty Feather thrown in

(Independent on Sunday)

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)

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 (Daily Mail)

Book Description

A richly atmospheric novel set in the Victorian period, perfect for fans of the hugely popular Fallen Grace

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ML Jensen on 9 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When this book opened in a big late-Victorian laundry, I was hooked at once. Hooper is expert at conjuring up wonderful historical settings and making you feel as though you are right there in the middle of it all - in this case in the steam, intolerable heat and noise of the laundry.
I found both Velvet's plight as an orphan and working-girl and the exploration of the world of London's mediums really engaging. I couldn't guess how the story would end - the drama of the final pages took me by surprise and was completely brilliant.
For readers who enjoyed Jane Eagland's Whisper My Name, this is another excursion into the same world of the mystery, deception and intrigue of the Victorian spiritualists - though a completely different story of course.
Velvet is an adventure, a story of growing up, of love, temptation and danger. It's beautifully and simply written; teen and pre-teen girls are sure to love it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bookinda VINE VOICE on 29 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
I came across Mary Hooper last year when I was sent Fallen Grace for review and enjoyed it immensely. I love historical fiction, particularly set in the Victorian era, and Hooper's evocative style, sympathetic characters and accessible writing won me over immediately. I investigated the author's other novels and was excited to learn the plot of her new book was set against the back drop of the Victorian spiritualist industry, something I have a read other books on and found fascinating.

I'm glad to say Velvet was just as good as Fallen Grace and I enjoyed every single page. After a couple of weeks of the dreaded reading slump, it's gripping story line and fascinating characters were welcome relief and I couldn't put the book down. Often historical fiction can come across as heavy going but this certainly isn't the case with Velvet at all. It's engaging and exciting yet remains very much in its time, throwing up many fascinating snippets of historical detail along the way.

Told in the first person from Velvet, I felt drawn to this character straight away. Despite having been abused and orphaned as a child and now working tirelessly in a laundry to scrimp her way through life, she remains ambitious and determined to stand on her own two feet. This seems to be a common trait in Hooper's female lead characters and I enjoy the strength she portrays, especially in an age where women weren't expected to want more. Sometimes I felt her ambition and desire to better herself made her a little too naïve at times, particularly where her new employer was concerned, although I think had I been in her position I too may have easily been so overawed at the life being offered to me to question it much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jan on 28 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
I love historical fiction and enjoy encouraging our young readers to read this genre. I found this book particularly enjoyable. At the start of the story we find our young heroine working in a steam laundry. This is Victorian England and life is hard for orphans like Velvet, who has no family to help her survive and so must take care not to lose her job or she will find herself homeless and hungry like so many others. She is delighted when Madame Savoya, a well known clairvoyant, offers her a position as a live-in maid in her smart London home and she begins to hope that her life might get even better as she suspects Madame's assistant, George, might be attracted to her. As time goes by Velvet realises that many of the women working as clairvoyants are in fact fraudsters taking advantage of, and making lots of money out of, grieving families, and she starts to wonder if Madame might not be as genuine as she seems. She decides to investigate.

The book is based on sound fact as it is widely known that many Victorians, including such famous figures as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, regularly attended séances and visited mediums, and also it is well documented that many of the women who claimed to have psychic powers ended up being prosecuted for fraud. The picture of the life of the girls in the steam laundry and also the glimpse of the terrible baby farm are also convincing. Ms Hooper has done her research well and includes some excellent historical notes and even a bibliography at the end of the book. A great read for young teenage readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SJH @ A Dream of Books on 26 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I actually haven't read anything by Mary Hooper before but when I first heard about 'Velvet' I was instantly drawn in by the concept of a story about spiritualists and mediums set during the Victorian era. I find it fascinating how people could (and obviously still can) be drawn into trying to communicate with their dead friends, relatives and loved ones and how the craze for spiritualists swept across England during this period in time. The rich squandered huge sums of money on this and were so captivated by entrancing clairvoyants that they were in some cases willing to do just about anything to maintain a connection with the dead. Hooper lays bare all the tricks of the trade as she shows the lengths mediums were prepared to go to in their quest to fool those grieving for wives, husbands, daughters, brothers etc and in the process secure a hefty sum of money for their own pockets.

I really enjoyed the fact that although this was a historical novel and huge amounts of research had obviously been done to ensure that the Victorian era was recreated authentically, particularly through the use of Old Bailey records, the book was still rich in a character driven plot which really came to life on the pages. I loved the main character Velvet who goes to work for Madame Savoya as her assistant, after losing her job in a steam laundry. She hopes to better herself after losing her mother and believing her father dead. Velvet is a pretty gutsy character and has had to learn to survive and stand on her own too feet. Although I found her to be a little naive at times whilst in the employee of Madame Savoya, she does eventually open her eyes to what's going on around her and when she unravels all she's seen and witnessed, she isn't afraid to speak up and try to put things right.
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