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4.6 out of 5 stars42
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 January 2011
This is about a girl called Hannah who visits her sister in London. They both have to escape catching the plague which is spreading quickly. It is set in a time of disaster, and makes you feel as if you were there, hearing about this disease that could kill you at any time and watching it's impact on the life around you. This book gives a good insight to life in the 17th century and isn't really much of a fiction story since you could imagine someone real dealing with the plague in this terrible situation.

I really enjoyed this book because even though it was fairly short, there was a lot of information packed into it, yet the plot was moving along at a steady pace - not too quickly. I did expect it to be a little bit longer, but nevertheless it was still interesting. I kept wanting to read more and find out what happens next. I would recommend it to people who love learning about history and a good page-turner.
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on 9 July 2009
It is a shame that not everyone hears about this book so they don't read it. It was so gripping and I couldn't put it down once it started!
Hannah goes into London to work with her sister, who has her own shop called the Sugared Plum, it has this fantastic description of her walking through London and feeling so excited. When poor Hannah arrives she finds her sister who isn't pleased to see her there becasue there has been an outbreak of the plague. Hannah vows that she will not go and it is settled that she will stay. The book follows her stay at the Sugared Plum and the spread of the Plague and also the love intrest of Hannah's, Tom! Soon the plague gets so bad that people are dying all around her and there are some fantastic descriptions here from Hooper. This book will hold you from beggining to end and ahs a fantastic story line and characters. You will love it- I know that I will read it time and time again.
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For teenagers a harrowing tale set in 1665 London, a third of its population about to be destroyed by plague. All begins delightfully - Hannah, red-haired and freckled, thrilled to join her sister Sarah and help run the tiny shop selling sweetmeats. Only gradually do they realize that certain disturbing rumours need to be treated very seriously....

Impressively detailed (sweetmeat recipes included), the novel vividly shows how Londoners strive to cope at one of the darkest times in the city's history. Readers are likely long to remember images of red crosses on doors, the scrawled LORD HAVE MERCY ON US, the tolling of the church bells, the carts collecting the dead, the graveyards with piles of bodies awaiting disposal.

What now for Hannah, Sarah and Tom, the ever-helpful apothecary's apprentice? Pages will be turned quickly, with some anxiety, in the bid to find out.

Recommended.
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on 3 November 2003
This was a great book and I enjoyed every minute of it. Some parts are quite sad and some happy and there are some things for you to try and make at home at the back of the book. It may be useful for a project on the plague as you journey through London with Hannah and her Sweetmead shop. I would recomend this book to anyone who likes a good read!
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on 17 August 2012
At 29 years I am not in the target read for this book, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I liked the main characters and especially enjoyed the history element of the Plague which I found fascinating-the writer had clearly done her research. I also enjoyed reading about Sweetmeats, not something I had even heard of before!
I did feel the way that the way Hannah escaped the Plague was rather far fetched but I imagine it must have happened. I was reading rather furiously in the second half to find out what happens, the writer portrays excellently the spreading sense of panic as the Plague sweeps through London.
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on 30 November 2014
An excellent short story! This was brimming with the atmosphere of 17th c life and felt so real at points I got a great sense of the anxiety of people at the time of the plague. I liked the fact it had been so well historically researched including real news details from the time and recipes at the back, but not in a way that felt over the top historical and forced.
The story begins with Hannah leaving her home in the country to work with her sister Sarah at her London sweatshop. Hannah is a likeable and believable character, excited about going to the city, fashionable clothes, finding her friend Abby who has gone to be a maid and falling in love with Tom the apprentice to a doctor. However, things quickly descend into fearfulness as the plague grows more by the day.
I was worried for what might happen to Hanbah and her friends, especially when it seemed Sarah had fallen ill but it was only a bad tooth! It was heartbreaking when Abby died. I thought the ending where the sisters manage to flee London by pretending to be a rich lady and her maid in order to save the baby of Abby's mistress was very unexpected and exciting, but I was so worried for Tom thinking he would catch plague from breaking into the house to rescue the baby!
I would have liked a fuller ending though and wondered if Hannah, Sarah and Tom would survive after all. There should be a sequel!
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on 3 April 2014
I haven't read any historical fiction in a while, mainly because I hadn't found one that interested me. I stumbled upon this in the Oxfam Bookshop (I love charity book stores, they're fun to explore!)and I bought it without any hesitation because I'd heard of Mary Hooper after reading one of Marie-Louise Jensen's books.

This turned out to be a really good historical read. I was suitably enthralled, disgusted and excited all at the same time. Enthralled by the events going on, disgusted by the plague and how it was dealt with, and excited by Hannah's exploration and adventures in London.
The character dynamics were brilliant too, and I loved Sarah and Abby as much as I loved Hannah.

My only niggle was the ending because it was abrupt and I never found out what happened to Baby Grace or Sarah. I know Hannah survives because she's in the next book, but Sarah doesn't go back to London with her.
Other than that I loved it, and I will definitely be reading the next when I happen upon it. Mary Hooper is a new author for me but judging from the amount of books she's written I'l be reading them for a long time to come.
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on 10 December 2012
If anyone ever asks me for recommendations when it comes to historical fiction I always tell them to start with a Mary Hooper novel.

Whether is first or third person narration, Mary Hooper's writing pulls you in and keeps you turning the pages until you've reached the end. The language is beautiful, the word-building exquisite (I've always wanted to say that in a review and now I finally can) and the characters are wonderful.

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum is no exception. Hannah travels to London to help her older sister in her `sweetmeats' shop. I loved the way Hannah describes making the sweets. If you're brave enough there are actually a few recipes for sweetmeats at the end of the book.

As the plague takes hold Hannah's narration doesn't falter. We see the horrors through her eyes without the story descending into chaos as her environment does. It's clear that this book has been researched at length and I certainly learned a few things.

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum might be a smaller book but the story is huge and you lose nothing of its value because of a lesser word count.
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on 27 December 2003
This is a great read and I found it hard to put the book down! Hannah's account of her journey through the time of the plague is senstively and informatively written. I hope there is a sequel because I want to know what happened when they arrived in Dorchester! Like other readers, I'd especially recommend this if you're studying the plague - but I'd also recommend it as an all round good book!
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on 20 July 2012
I probably bought his by accident thinking it was a serious book for grown up people but in fact it reads like pre-teenage fiction. I don't know how one reader could call it "racy" as there isn't anything that even alludes to racy-ness barring one or two very chaste kisses .
Historically, it reads as though the author did a bit of research in the form of reading books for background information into the Great Plague (she quotes Pepys's Diary and W G Bell and also Liza Picard's Restoration London - and to be honest, if you want to know about the Great Plague , these books will tell you much more than ATSOT Sugared Plum ) but the characters she drew were very dull and boring and one- dimensional which one would expect in pre teenage fiction books and although I finished it, I was bored by the end of it . If there is a sequel to this book, I won't be in a hurry to find out what happened to Hannah and Sarah and baby Grace .
The only part which interested me was the description of the Royal Exchange - because I used to work there !
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