Review of Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

No, I don't understand this cover either.
Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.

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This book felt much longer than it was for me. I liked the Dickensian feel to it, the plot could quite easily have been written by Dickens himself and he even makes a cameo appearance! However I did feel the plot was quite slow in places and others I wanted more detail. I would have like to have seen things from Lily's point of view more, she doesn't get much of a say in it. There's one particular situation that Lily finds herself in that I really wanted more detail on.

The strongest part of this story was the beginning, where Grace gives birth to her child. I loved that it wasn't glossed over and told you as much detail as possible without being too gross. This reminded me of the beginning of Oliver Twist, which I watched the other day. I'm not a huge fan of Dickens but I know Oliver Twist quite well and strangely enough, this plot feels similar.
Another strong part was when Grace recounted hers and Lily's pasts to James and to herself. These show you what London girls back then went through and really made me feel for Grace and Lily. Their situation slowly becomes more desperate before the Unwins take them in.

There's lots of twists and turns in this, a lot that I wasn't expecting which was nice but felt a little too clean, a little too coincidental, like they'd been thrown in the make the plot spicier or something. I really liked the addiction of James Solent, who was by far my favourite character in the story. It would be nice to have a sequel where James and Grace get married by I believe Mary Hooper isn't one for sequels!

I did enjoy this story, all in all. I thought it was quite rich and would make a perfect TV movie.

4/5

Received free from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

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