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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Set in Victorian England, this is a story about two sisters who have been orphaned and struggle to survive those hard times. The eldest daughter has a disability and so Grace, her sister, has to care for her.

The story has twists and turns and makes an interesting read. I liked the style in which it was written as for me, it conjured up the emotions that Grace was going through.

It depicts being poor in London during that period of time really well, it was quite a cut throat and harsh place to live back then.

Shocking revelations and a happy ending - definately an enjoyable read.
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on 16 December 2011
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Fallen Grace is a beautifully written novel filled with history, mystery and family. It is my first historical fiction novel and I must say, I really enjoyed it.

The story starts with Grace having given birth and her travelling to a cemetery to bury her stillborn baby. The tone of the novel is set immediately and I automatically felt sympathy for her. The life she and her sister live, selling watercress on the streets, selling their mother's possessions; it was heartbreaking.

Grace was an incredibly strong protagonist. Despite the poverty in which she lived, she was incredibly graceful and elegant. She never acted entitled and her first thought was always for her sister Lily. Grace is like a mother to Lily, putting Lily's needs before her own. She is a mother, sister and provider all in one.

The plot goes in many different directions, a lot of them being surprising to me. The progression of the plot caught me by surprise and it was totally unpredictable. The ending was unexpected and I love it when that happens.

Fallen Grace is a book containing a lot of tragedy but at the same time it contains so much hope. The love Grace has for sister and the strength she possesses definitely reminded me what was important, especially when the world around you in treating you poorly. A nice introduction for those who haven't tried historical fiction and an enjoyable read for those that have.
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on 22 July 2011
I got this book as I usually don't like the historical genre and wanted to like it more, and it was successful in this purpose. Mary Hooper perfectly writes about Victorian London, and Grace seems to be a kind, moral, meek, courageous heroine, who has to care for herself and her sister, Lily. The start of the book sees Grace burying her dead baby, a horrifying ordeal, especially as she has no one to confide in, no one to talk to. She sees herself as a Fallen woman, even though she was raped, and has quite a low opinion of herself. She doesn't think they will ever live well off, giving the tale a slight ironic aspect as we quickly realise that both she and her sister are largely sought after heiresses.

I thought the end was too predictable (maybe I was being too thoughtful, and expected something more complex) which is why I felt slightly let down at the end, and I'd recommend this book to anyone 12+. Really, you should get it, it really is almost perfect, despite my 4 stars. The very last part made me cry, it was that beautiful and sad, built up from the very start, yet I was expecting it anyway.

Buy this book, let it transport you to 1861, and you will be right there, with Grace and Lily, as they sell watercress to try and make a living. I'm looking forward to reading more Mary Hooper books, if they are all as good as this one.
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on 2 May 2011
There are moments in this book when vulnerability and decency meet abusive behaviour and murderous greed, and the reader believes that the forces of evil are going to win. The sensation this produces is incredibly powerful. You turn the pages feverishly, fearfully and with increasing urgency, as if that alone could save brave Grace from those who seek to hurt her. Yet, thanks to the sure touch of the writer, the reader never feels manipulated. The storytelling is deft, with all the different storylines unravelled in a highly satisfactory way at the end. Although this is an historical novel, it treats the theme of child abuse in a fresh and daring way, so that even the most modern, sophisticated internet-obsessed child could engage with barefoot, ragged Grace
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 January 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This young adult novel has now had so many reviews it's impossible to say anything new and fresh about it. I can only endorse the fulsome praise heaped on Mary Hooper: anyone with an interest in Victorian times will love this one. A fantastic story, well-told, with characters who leap off the page.
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on 25 June 2010
This is the first book I've read by Mary Hooper, though she has been on my radar for quite a while. For some reason I've just never been drawn to her stories and, had I not received a review copy of Fallen Grace, I'm quite sure I wouldn't have picked it up. It's reasons like this - being introduced to new authors and genres - that make me glad to be a blogger, and I'd like to say a big thanks to Bloomsbury for prompting me to read such a brilliant author.

Fallen Grace is set in England in the 1800s, which I believe is the Victorian era. I'll admit I'm not too good on my own country's historical periods, though thanks to books like this, I'm finally learning all about them. For this reason, I found Fallen Grace to be very educational, and I loved learning about the state of London and the way people lived. For example, I never knew that the whole country went into mourning when a member of the Royal Family died, or that so many horribly kept workhouses existed. Being poor was obviously worse than I thought it was.

What I loved most about Fallen Grace was Hooper's way of describing people, surroundings and London's general way of life. Time and time again the imagery was so vivid that I felt like I'd been transported back to the 1860s, with no shoes on my feet and a suffocating fog sweeping the city. When an author can truly make me believe in their writing like that, I know they're something special.

Hooper's characters were cleverly mastered and richly layered, and all as vividly realised as the city they inhabited. Grace was loving and selfless, even though she was dealing with something no-one should ever have to face. Lily was more simple and easily led, though she proved loyal and more intelligent than she seemed. Even the bad guys were written in such a way that I couldn't help but feel sorry for their sorry state of affairs, yet relieved at their outcome. I imagine they all took a long time to bring to life, and the effort and time spent on each individual story really showed in the writing.

At this moment in time, I honestly don't have a bad thing to say about Fallen Grace. It's opened my eyes to the historical YA genre, and has reminded me that it's good to branch out and try new authors and books. Mary Hooper is a fantastic writer, and I'll be reading more by her as soon as possible.
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on 8 June 2011
I received this book for my 15th birthday, as I am an avid Mary Hooper fan. Initially, I thought (due to the blurb) that the book would be quite morbid. However; I instantly loved it after reading the first page! The storyline was full of twist and turns which kept you hooked throughout the book. As well as this- the historical facts were very accurate, and I have felt as though I have learnt something from reading it. The ending was sensationally happy, which led me grinning from ear to ear. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure tales, particularly those of Victorian England. :)
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on 6 December 2012
I a am ten-year old girl and I thought it would be a good idea to write a review on this book because I noticed that most of the reviews on this book are by adults.

This is a good book because it educates you about life in London in the Victorian era and is interesting, thrilling and addictive all at the same time!! I now know how much poor people suffered in those times.
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on 27 May 2013
Fallen Grace is the story of Grace Parkes, a young woman living in the harsh Victorian London. Orphaned and living with her disabled older sister, everyday Grace must sell watercress and find jobs to survive everyday. She also hs a shocking secret - Grace has given birth to an illegitimate stillborn child. Whilst weeping over the baby, she is seen by the unsrupulous Unwins, who offer her the jobs of being a funeral mute. But as the story progresses, that's not the only thing they want from her...
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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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