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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 14 March 2014
I really enjoyed this book. The author has a lovely style of writing and keeps the reader's interest throughout. A highly recommended read!
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on 12 November 2010
The tale of Grace and Lily, lost to their family and to the fortune that should be theirs, is a captivating and engaging tale. The atmosphere of poverty and desperation of two girls struggling to survive alone in Dickensian London is beautifully captured by Mary Hooper.
The story is unusual and fascinating right from the first page as we meet a distressed young Grace trying to bury her still-born child decently. From there we are led step by weary step through the life-and-death struggle of the two sisters to survive in a hostile world.
Fallen Grace is, in my opinion, by far Mary Hooper's best historical work to date. Her research is always meticulous and the writing always charming and accessible, but this novel has a depth and texture that is new. The many threads in the story make it a satisfying and compelling read, and the portrayal of the rogue undertaker and his ability to fleece his grieving customers of their money is a dark delight.
There is some sexual content - mainly alluded to rather than described - to explain Grace's pregnancy. But unlike Newes from the Dead, which although also a fantastic read, was not suitable for younger or sensitive readers, this one could well be enjoyed by girls from 11 or 12 years. A fantastic read and very deserving of the Booktrust and Carnegie nominations it has received.
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VINE VOICEon 10 October 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The story of fifteen-year-old Grace, who begins the story on a train whose only destination is to a suburban graveyard. and her sister Lily who is her elder in years only. The two orphan girls live together in the "rookeries"; the name given to the Victoran slums where the poor lived squashed together like birds in nests. To add to their misfortunes, Grace has just given birth and lost the child. That day in the cemetery, Grace collects two business cards; one from a kind young lawyer's clerk called James, who promises to be there for Grace whenever she needs him, and another from Mrs. Unwin, an unscrupulous undertaker's wife who promises Grace a job. Both these offers will help to change Grace and Lily's lives completely.

I came to this book expecting to enjoy it, having loved some of Mary Hooper's other historical novels (the Sign of the Sugared Plum books especially, and to a lesser extent, the Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose). And I did; the pages kept turning. Grace is a sympathetic heroine; like Hooper's other historical heroines, she seems like she could really have been born in that time period while still being relatable to a modern reader. She is tough enough to keep going through hard times without losing sight of her principles, but also instinctively kind to others, and with a sweet vulnerability; I like the moment where she catches sight of Prince Albert. I like how Hooper's heroines, like real girls throughout history, take responsibility for their lives and live independently. Not that they had much choice, of course, in Victorian times. Fallen Grace shows, without any fuss, just how bleak life was back then when there was no support net but the vagaries of charity which barely made a dent (like the soup kitchen which insisted on a note from your home parish certifying that you were destitute through no fault of your own, before they would give you any soup). The other aspect of Victorian life that Fallen Grace showcases is the heyday of elaborate and expensive funerals and mourning. People were expected to spend as much as they could spare, and then some, on the latest must-have mourning accessories, and the "death trade" fanned the flames by creating ever more complicated rules of mourning; such as different clothes for every stage of bereavement. The rich would pay for children to stand by the coffin and look tragic.

There are a few familiar Mary Hooper elements here; an independent heroine, a hidden birthright, celebrity cameos, teenage pregnancy. There is something about her understated, simple to read prose that I really like. Fallen Grace gets more and more far-fetched and unbelievable, with almost cartoonish villains, and while I believe Hooper is nodding to the sensational serials and gothic style popular in Victorian times, it may be too much for some readers to swallow. It occupied me for a pleasant, cosy evening but I don't think I'll hang onto my copy. Still, I would recommend it for anyone wanting a good, quick read that will plunge you into another time.
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on 2 January 2011
I am 13 and thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story keeps you awake all night, frightened for Grace! I would recommend it for anyone my age or above-a brilliant read.
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Yet another enjoyable tale from Mary Hooper. This is a perfect book for young adults with an interest in historical drama, suspense and intrigue. Grace, the heroine, is wonderfully courageous and independent. After becoming a fallen woman at the tender age of 15, she conspires to fight back and not allow herself to be taken advantage of again. After losing her parents, Grace and her sister Lily struggle to make ends meet in one of the poorest areas of London. However, she mistakenly believes her fortune has improved after she is taken in by the sinister Unwin family to work in their funeral business. After a series of twists and turns involving the shady dealings of the Unwins, she eventually gains her rightful place in society. This is a lovely book with lots of historical detail and an engaging plot. I particularly liked the descriptions of the Victorian funeral business and just how different the mourning process was. Hooper also includes her inspiration for the writing of the book as it is often difficult to appreciate all the hard work and research that goes into creating such an easy to read and enjoyable book.
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on 13 January 2015
very good
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VINE VOICEon 29 November 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The story is about two sisters; Grace and Lily Pearce. Grace has to care for her elder sister Lily who is mentally challenged and unable to look after herself responsibly. The sister's mother died when they were young and their father emigrated to seek his fortune not knowing that his wife was pregnant with their second daughter.
The young sisters have to fend for themselves in unforgiving Victorian England.

The author has developed the story around the unscrupulous nature of the Victorian funeral trade and the dire needs and terrible conditions suffered by the poor in Victorian London. It makes you want to cry that such things were actually allowed to happen, especially to the children.

This is a wonderfully intriguing story cleverly written and well researched. I couldn't put it down.
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In the world of Young Adult fiction, the majority of tales that you come across these days tend to be pretty solidly set within the latest trends. So it takes a pretty strong author to branch out and create the type of offering that they not only want others to read but one to make them stand out from the crowd. What is portrayed within this title is an almost Dickensian world that is not only bleak and harsh but also one that will keep the reader glued as they hope and pray that the characters within manage to make their own way through the trials and tribulations thrown at them. The characters are outstanding, the dialogue crisp and the overall arc is one that will stay with you long after the final page. A truly memorable reading experience.
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VINE VOICEon 21 December 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This review is based on the comments made by my 12 year-old daughter.

Fallen Grace tells the tragic story of a poor young girl, growing up in Victorian England, and the deprivations and challenges she has to overcome.

For children unfamiliar with the era, the descriptions of begging and of selling watercress to earn a few pennies on which to subsist seem unbelievable at first, but the vivid writing and the excellent plot overcame this and made the book difficult to put down.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
*Serious Spoilers ahead*

Where to begin. At one stage after the fairly pedestrian opening red flagging a stolen baby story I suggested to my daughter this was shaping up to be a 5 star book worth reading. Lots of interesting quotations from Charles Dickens, a real sense of the poverty and hard times destitute young women faced in the Victorian era and a beautiful insight into the parallel lives of Victoria and Albert's London. And then the plot developed turning the book into hamster bedding. At one stage I was truly excited as this seemed an excellent teen Dickensian plot but then it turned into a farce - chasing lost adoption certificates in the fog with one handed villains, the villain falling dead with shock after the heroine jumps out of a coffin. So much was good - the detailed funeral industry, swindling pawn shops, watercress girls, workhouses and derelict accommodation and so much was excruciatingly bad - one handed rapist, swapped baby story which was flagged early on, unbelievable lost heiresses popping out of coffins... I've read lots of YA historical fiction which I've passed onto my daughter, including the recent Black Banner but this doesn't cut it. The plot isn't suited to older teens in the age range to read this 'fallen women' story despite the great writing and research. I've passed some challenging and excellent reads to my children but sadly this won't be one of them. I feel very harsh in giving this 2/3 stars as the writing and research is good. It's just not what teens want to read - fallen Victorian girls in the sanitised Famous Five mould of redoubtable heroines unless the plot is credible and relevant. This falls way short in my opinion. Sorry.
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