Friday, December 13

Book Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

A Mad, Wicked FollyA Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller (YA Historical Fiction)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In A Mad, Wicked Folly, seventeen-year-old British society girl Victoria Darling dreams of becoming a professional artist like her idols in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  When she poses nude for the art class she attends in secret, she is kicked out of her Paris finishing school and sent home immediately.  In London, her parents start working on damage control - her mother hires a new lady's maid who will prepare Vicky for her debut to the king and her marriage to an Oxford student from a titled family.  Strong-willed Victoria refuses to give up on her dream and decides to apply to the Royal College of Art, though her parents have confiscated her supplies and keep her time filled with dance lessons and social calls.  In her plan to complete her college application while preserving her family's tenuous place in the aristocracy, Vicky is forced to sneak around and lie to her parents.  In search of interesting subjects for her sketchbook, Vicky is drawn into the dangerous world of the suffrage movement and to a sympathetic young police constable who shares her artistic bent.

Sharon Biggs Waller draws readers into the Edwardian period in a very natural way: the Art Nouveau movement is referenced in the posters Vicky's friend from art school designs rather than in an art history lesson, the suffrage movement is a natural source of conflict for a young woman in the city, and innovations such as flush toilets, automobiles, and the Underground serve to move the story along.  I'm intrigued by the social divisions that were so prevalent during this era, and Waller explores them through the characters Vicky interacts with, from women who work in factories and fight for the right to vote, to the Darling family's servants, who must enter through the back door, to Mrs. Darling's world of calling cards, carriages, and corsets.  Though Vicky finds allies to help her chase her dreams, she is often too focused on her own goals to help others and too caught up in the formal way she's been raised to form genuine friendships.  Her determination made me root for her all the way, though, and the book was full of reminders for me, as a modern woman, not to take my own freedoms for granted.

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I won my copy of A Mad, Wicked Folly in a Goodreads giveaway, and now I want to share it with one of you lovely readers!  Enter below to win an ARC of the book, which will be on sale January 2014.


  1. I love pretty much all historical fiction, but tend to read a ton from the Renaissance period.

    1. I thought of you while I was reading A Mad, Wicked Folly since I know how much you love historical fiction, and since it's YA, it's a quick read.