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The Disgrace of Kitty Grey Paperback – 9 May 2013
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Another sumptuous, satisfying read from Mary Hooper (Lucy Mangan)
Deliciously funny, thoughtful and atmospheric (Amanda Criag The Times)
More wonderfully atmospheric historical romance from Hooper, set in the time of Jane Austin (The Bookseller)
I loved the gripping story of dairymaid Kitty Grey who travels to London on a quest. Beautifully researched, it evokes below stairs Jane Austen in Dickens' London! (Caroline Lawrence)
Superb . . . Hooper is a wise and charming writer (Philip Womack Literary Review)
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)
A hugely romantic new novel set in the time of Jane Austen, from the popular author of Fallen Grace. For fans of Philippa Gregory, Eva Ibbotson and Georgette HeyerSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
This is an evocative story, as one would expect from Mary Hooper. The world is filtered through Kitty's innocent point of view and Hooper's writing is, as always, deceptively simple. Kitty's innocence is powerfully contrasted with the might of the establishment as it conspires to crush her.
The powerlessness of innocence and poverty in the face of a law designed to protect the already-wealthy is especially pertinent to us today, as we watch legal aid being removed from the most vulnerable. Kitty has no chance of avoiding the fate of all those so poor they are forced to break the law to survive. Or has she?
We have seen some wonderful settings in Mary Hooper's historical novels: laundry, funeral parlour, cress-selling, sweet-making and now a dairy-maid - so different in London to in the country. All beautifully evoked and described.
Beautifully researched, charmingly written; Kitty Grey is a delight.
I'm a huge fan of Mary Hooper's writing, she has a way of bringing history to life and I think that's partly down to all the little details she adds to her stories - those little snippets from true stories that show how well researched her books are. I love the way she always introduces some less talked about aspects of history too, in Fallen Grace it was Victorian funeral traditions, in Velvet it was the horror of baby farms and in The Disgrace of Kitty Grey it was the treatment of female prisoners and the prison ships that were sent to colonise Australia along with some very interesting snippets about the life of a milkmaid.
Kitty is such a great character, she is quite innocent, especially when it comes to the ways of city life, but at the same time she has a great inner strength that is what pulls her through the difficult times. Nothing about London is what she was expecting it to be and it was a real struggle for her just to survive, she tries so hard to get a job and earn the money she needs to look after Betsy but circumstances keep going against her. It makes you really appreciate the justice and welfare systems we have in place now because it was practically impossible for single women to make an honest living in the past, especially one with a child because of the stigma of being an unmarried mother. The conditions in the prisons were just horrific for the poor, sentences for relatively small crimes were high and unless you had the money to bribe the guards for extra food or even a blanket then life was miserable. In contrast if you were rich then prison could have all the comforts of home right down to a four poster bed if you paid enough for the privilege!
There were a couple of coincidences in The Disgrace of Kitty Grey that were a little hard to believe but that didn't stop me thoroughly enjoying the story. Kitty was lucky enough to find some supportive friends who made life at Newgate prison a little more bearable for her and Betsy. I think anyone with even a slight interest in history is going to love any of Mary Hooper's books and this one is no exception. I can't wait to see what interesting topic she introduces next.
Kitty Grey lives a charmed life as milkmaid in a model dairy in a country house. She is in love with Will, a ferryman who lives in a small run-down hovel by the river but hopes to go to London to make his fortune so that he and Kitty to marry. However, things go badly for Will, who along with his sisters was orphaned. His elder sister is forced to leave as her husband is laid off asnd starts a fights with the farmer. Will has to look after Betsy, his little sister, and brings her to the manor asking Kitty if she can stay there. This is on the day that Kitty has led one of her cows into the library so that the girls of the house can use her in a living picture charade. I wish more had been made of this idea as it could have worked out more fun but it got swamped in the rest of the story and seemed only to be to get Kitty to be friends with the Lord's daughter and be asked by her to go to London to get a copy of Pride and Prejudice. This seemed a bit far-fetched. Kitty finds Will his gone and left her with Betsy and assumes he has abandoned them. She thinks to looks for him whilst in London with Betsy. on arrival she is robbed. i found her reaction perplexing as she did not even think to go to the law, or even talk to a clergyman in St Pauls who might have helped and got word to the fam,ily at the hall. Instead she goes to be a milkmaid in a filthy London dairy and stays with Betsy in horrible lodgings. When Betsy falls sick she burns a chair for firewood and is sent to Newgate prison. The scenes here were really atmospheric. Kitty gets sentenced to 7 years in Austalia for arson but finds on whilst on the ship that Will has been press ganged. With the help of a navy officer who Sophia, the Lords' daughter, loves, she and Betsy pretend to have died and are taken from the ship in a body bag and relased so that they can go home with Will to the hall. The story ends happily with Kitty and Will marrying.
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