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4.6 out of 5 stars42
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 2006
I had this book bought for me and i could say at first i was not sure. But when i picked it up, i literally was hooked! It follows the lives of Hannah and her sister during the plauge. It is racy, interesting and sad. I would definitly recomend to anyone of the age group 13+. I would read again!
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on 13 July 2008
I read this book when i was ten and really injoyed it. I am now eleven and read it again and again. It is about the Plague in London and how Hannah and her sister Sarah try to survive and keep their sweetmeats shop open. I recomend this to any reader how likes adventure books that is hard to put down. In the back of the book it tells you how to make sweetmeats like: Sugared Rose Petals, Frosted anjelica and lots more. If you like this book read the follow up Petals in the Ashes.
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on 28 January 2004
At the Sign of the Sugared Plum tells the story of Hannah who moves to London full of excitment only to find that the plague is sweeping through the city. As more and more people become ill, Hannah and her sister have to decide what to do. The final chapters are nail biting! As well as being a great story, the book gives a brilliant insight into the life of teenagers during that period of history. I had not read any books by Mary Hooper before but i will definitely read more now!
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on 4 August 2011
For a young adult novel, this was very evocative in its portrayal of London during the terrifying months of the plague at its height. Hannah travels to London from her quiet, idyllic village, to work at her sisters sweetmeats shop. But she couldn't have chosen a worse time. The plague is just developing its stranglehold on the city, slowly spreading through the fetid streets and alleyways, seemingly infecting all those it touches.

The fascination with Hooper's novel is the way in which she describes the people and the atmosphere of the time. The sense of everyday life, laced with a growing sense of fear and dread as all those affected struggle to find reasons why it is happening, is gripping stuff to read. Hooper describes wonderfully the different 'preventatives' used by people at the time; the herbs and spices, the beliefs about what they should and shouldn't do, usually to no avail, and particularly the descriptions of those affected by the plague. But more over it is the story of Hannah and her sister - two healthy women, trapped in an increasingly unhealthy world - who try to remain normal whilst all around them is anything but. And 15 year old Hannah experiences all the familiar 'teenage' angst too - bad hair, worrying about her skin, boys, clothes - all the things that a modern day teen can relate to.

When the plague finally takes over, Hannah and Sarah must make a painful decision about their future in London, and the reader can really feel their anguish - wanting to stay, but knowing in their hearts that they can't.

Even though this is a young adult novel, I would definitely read more from Hooper - a very interesting historical event, recreated for modern teenage audiences in a well-written and easy to understand and relate to way.
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on 15 October 2011
This is the second book in two weeks I've read set in the 1600s and I have to confess this is the book that most vividly invokes the period. Mary Hooper is celebrated for her historical YA books and after reading my first book from her I can understand why. The writing is simple and elegant, effortless painting pictures, sounds and smells of the period. In fact I just fell in love with Mary's style of writing and descriptions!
The story focuses on Hannah, a young girl from the country who moves to London to help her older sister in her sweetmeats shop just before the Great Plague hits London in 1665. Hannah is new to the city and through her eyes we can experience the everyday life of people at the time living in a crowded, prosperous city. I loved Hannah's naivety and wonder at seeing the city for the first time. People are not frightened at first but slowly the tension mounts as rumours and disease spread. I loved the descriptions of preventatives and how the dead are dealt with as the situation slowly gets worse and the fear mounts.
This is a truly enchanting tale with plentiful historical detail for those who care. There is creepiness from the disease acting as a menacing figure towering over Hannah and her sister. I'm so happy I have a selection of other Mary Hooper books to work my way through as I have found a new favourite!
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on 16 June 2004
At the sign of the sugared plum is a touching story and is the best book i've ever read! The story-line of Hannah and her older sister struggling through difficult times as the plague threatens them in every chapter. Bringing the scene alive is exactly what Mary Hooper achives, you can imagine the sights and smells of London, the church bells ringing constantly declaring more deaths as the sisters parish becomes infected. Also the fear stricken into Hannah as she discovers more and more blood red crosses on tha parish doors and the dreaded words "lord have mercy on us"! This is also a very educational book telling you about the scenes of London, the symptoms of the plague such as the buboes and tokens that apper on the skin. Everything seems so real as they travel through the disese stricken land-the pits piled high with corpses and the smell of preventives everywhere! i don't think Hannah will have any more time to worry about her bright red hair and freckles! A must read book!
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on 4 July 2012
Having been asked to write a review for this book a while back,now I have an account I can finally give this book a mere amount of the justice and praise it deserves.
I'm an avid reader and came across this book by chance in my library and I have to say I fell in love with it.It's simplicity is beautiful yet it still manages to provoke an array of emotions especially concerning the main character and her circumstances.I have always loved London and how it is portrayed in the book makes me fall in love with it even more and I now desperately want to go back.This book has to be my favourite read and that is certainly a great achievement having read so many and of different genres.A lot of people say 'I couldn't put it down',but I mean it when I say I really couldn't,the inner conflict of the character alongside the romance that develops made me so emotional and in a state of nervous deposition,I think I read this book within two days,that has to be the fastest I have ever read a book and now I'm going to seek out other books from this author.I eagerly encourage you to read this book,it's magical,I grew such a fondness for the main character and her optimism to continue her delicate occupation whilst London is in such a predicament at the time.I certainly developed a taste for crystallised petals after having read this book.Having reflected on this book I think I may even have to return to the library,find it and re-read it.

Mary Hooper,this book is amazing,I thank you for such an enjoyable read.
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on 11 August 2011
At the Sign of the Sugared Plum is a very quick read about a young girl's experiences in London, during the Plague. It's told in the usual Mary Hooper fashion, a lot of attention to detail with a very rich, vivid storyline and a very likeable heroine.

Hannah did annoy me at first because she was a very stereotypical, 'fresh from the country' girl, she's very naive and the only things on her mind are getting rid of her freckles and the latest fashions. However, after seeing all the horrors of the Plague - Plague pits, dead and dying lying in the street and being trapped in London - only people with signed papers stating they're healthy can leave, and they aren't cheap - Hannah starts to see how the world really is and she starts to be more like her sister, despite still having a weakness for the latest fashions!

The cover is an eye-catching one too - if you look closely at Hannah's eye you can see a skull in it, which I find pretty creepy! There's also a newspaper style background with larger words like 'Plague' and 'Prayers' really standing out. It's a brilliant cover.

As I said, the storytelling is magical. There's enough gruesome detail to really get a picture of what it was like there (I swear I smelt a house full of rotting bodies at one point) but not so much that you'd want to hide it from your 13 year old sister. A perfect balance really!

I would have liked the book to have been longer so we could have found out what happened afterwards with some of the characters and I'm not sure why this wasn't done, after all, the book is only 163 pages long so another chapter shouldn't have hurt?
Review Update: Since writing this review I've learnt that there is a sequel, Petals in the Ashes, which I'll be doing everything I can to get my hands on!
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on 29 November 2010
Hannah, a country girl, is suitably impressed with her first sight (and smell) of the great city of London, and it's with a spring in her step that she traverses the busy streets on her way to the Sign of the Sugared Plum, and her sister's sweetmeat/confectionary shop.
But sweet soon turns to sour when Hannah learns that she shouldn't have come here, that the deadly pestilence has found its way into the city. She's not one to be brought down so easily, especially when there is so much to see and to learn, fascinating new people (like the apothecary's apprentice Tom) and an old friend, Abby, now a ladie's maid, to meet up with. Yet even her spirits cannot remain high forever as day by day, the fingers of death spread through the city, creeping closer and ever closer to the Sign of the Sugared Plum...

This YA story, told through the innocent and hopeful eyes of Hannah, is a brilliant tale, full of engaging characters, which manages to tell the true stories of the terrible London Plague of 1665 in an interesting manner. As well as learning about the heretofore unknown art of old confectionary making, the ever-present threat of the pestilence whispers its way through the prose, keeping you guessing until the final pages.

If the second in this era series, Petals on the Wind, is as good, then it's well worth a read!
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on 29 January 2011
"At the sign of the Sugared Plum", is a tragic tale about a young girl called Hannah who travels from the countryside to London, where she works with her sister Sarah at a sweetmeats shop (a sweet shop). Hannah is a kind and caring girl who would do anything for people she knows. She is very romantic and loves her sister and friends dearly. Mary Hooper describes the arrival of the Plague in London as being full of terror and death, you also feel like you are in the city because of the amazing imagery she conjures up. This story has romance, death, sadness and friendship and was quite a hard book to get into at first, but then I couldn't put it down. It is quite a short book but is very meaningful and expresses how friends and family are so important and they will always be in you heart. This book includes at the back some sweetmeat recipes from the Stuart period and Notes on the London Plague of 1665. This book makes you both cry and cheers you up I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did. There is a sequal to this book which is about Hannah's travels back to London, the book is called "Petals in Ashes".
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