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Velvet Paperback – 5 Jul 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 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: 354,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By Lovely Treez TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been avid fan of Mary Hooper ever since I read the wonderful Newes From The Dead and I haven't been disappointed with any of her historical novels for children either, Fallen Grace was especially good with its focus on the Victorians' obsession with death and mourning.

Velvet, our eponymous heroine, has not had an easy life - losing her mother, then neglected by an abusive, gambling father and eventually orphaned. The only thing keeping her from the workhouse is her daily drudgery in the steam laundry but Velvet aspires to greater things. Fate intervenes in the shape of the mysterious Madame Savoya, kin to the Romanovs, who is becoming one of the most popular spiritual mediums in London at a time when spiritualism is all the rage. Naturally Velvet jumps at the chance of becoming Madame's maid/helper and, at first, she is dazzled by the glamour and excitement of her new life. Gradually the seeds of doubt are sown but discovering the truth could have fatal consequences.

Mary Hooper has the knack of drawing her readers straight in from the opening lines - you feel the intense heat and claustraphobic atmosphere of the steam laundry, you feel the tense expectation of the audience at her seances, you feel the desperation of those who will pay any price to have one more moment with their deceased loved ones. The inclusion of real-life characters such as the renowned Spiritualist, Arthur Conan Doyle and infamous Baby Farm murderer, Amelia Dyer, adds texture and depth to this gripping story. The fictional characters are all fully fleshed, flaws and all, especially Velvet's fatal flaw - vanity. I love the way I always learn something new by reading Mary Hooper's historical novels without feeling I'm back in the classroom.
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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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