A Mad, Wicked Folly

A Mad, Wicked Folly

4.4 7
by Sharon Biggs Waller, Katharine McEwan
     
 

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Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

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Overview

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* "At equal turns humorous and heartbreaking. . . . A must-have first purchase."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "Waller’s intriguingly sympathetic characters, effortless and effective blend of history and romance, passion for her subject, and swift-paced plot make her a new YA voice to watch."—Booklist, starred review

"[A] compelling coming-of-age tale that’s as good as any British period drama. . . . The Edwardian world here is so immersive and Vicky so likable that readers will want to put on the kettle on and settle in for a lovely read."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"An enjoyable historical romp."—Kirkus Reviews

Selected for the American Library Association's 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project List.

Selected for the Young Adult Library Services Association's 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults List.

Selected for Booklist's Top Ten Historical Fiction for Youth.

Seclected for Booklist's Top Ten Romance Fiction for Youth. "This historical romance, set in 1909 London, has all the elements dear to readers of the genre, especially forbidden love, but the feminist tone and art-history focus add an edge."

Selected for Booklist's Top Ten First Novels for Youth. "Waller’s intriguing characters and effortless blend of history and romance make her a new YA voice to watch."

• "This book is outstanding historical fiction. Readers will become immersed in the story and admire Vicky’s commitment and risk-taking."—Library Media Connections, starred review

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"[A] compelling coming-of-age tale that’s as good as any British period drama. . . . The Edwardian world here is so immersive and Vicky so likable that readers will want to put on the kettle on and settle in for a lovely read."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
School Library Journal
★ 02/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—In 1870, Queen Victoria made the astonishing declaration that women's rights were a "mad, wicked folly." This statement was the inspiration for Waller's impeccable debut novel about a young English woman who is talented, beautiful, passionate, and wealthy. Despite these advantages, Victoria Darling struggles with the harsh limitations imposed upon women prior to and during the Edwardian era of 1901-1910, which curtail her attempts to attend art school. While Victoria does not initially associate with the Suffragette Movement, she ultimately discovers that her fate is intertwined with the cause. The first-person narrative in her earnest voice helps readers to more intimately understand the rampant frustration felt by thousands of women during that time. Waller vividly describes the unbearably restrictive corsets for women, the force-feeding implemented to undermine protesters during hunger strikes, and notable individuals who helped in the movement. At equal turns humorous and heartbreaking, readers will chuckle at Victoria's exploits (climbing out a bedroom window, being stuck mid-curtsey before King Edward in court) and admire the brave sacrifices she makes to pursue her dreams. There is enough detailed information throughout to make this a useful and fascinating book to pair with nonfiction resources about women's history. A must-have first purchase.—Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-20
Vicky Darling is the rebellious, artistically talented daughter of a wealthy plumbing magnate, coming of age in Edwardian England at the height of the women's suffrage movement. The title ironically references Queen Victoria's condemnation of "… this mad, wicked folly of ‘Women's Rights' with all its attendant horrors on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety." Vicky's personal struggles to become a respected artist are paralleled with those of the suffragists with whom she becomes closely involved when her arranged marriage with a wealthy scion of a well-bred family falls apart and she is cut off from the family finances. Vicky finally finds true reward when she is accepted into the Royal College of Art on her own merits. Her lower-class lover and sometime "undraped" art model, police constable Will Fletcher, finally agrees to an artistic partnership publishing the "tuppenny novelettes" he writes and she illustrates. Although the modern dialogue is jarring at times and the plot somewhat implausible, the narrative moves swiftly along, and the historical background is painted credibly and with a light touch. The moving and authentic portrayal of Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters will engage readers with an interest in the history of the women's movement. Author's notes at the end of the book on Edwardian life, the women's movement and the Pre-Raphaelite art movement, on which much of the fine art thread in the book is based, are helpful in establishing the context of the novel. An enjoyable historical romp. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804167543
Publisher:
Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2014
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

With Will next to me, the fog no longer seemed ominous; instead, it felt peaceful. The fog blotted out the surroundings and any passersby, making it feel as though we were the only people about.
“So you believe in votes for women?” I asked as we walked.
“I don’t see the point in denying half the population the right to vote.” He shook his head. “It’s daft. So yes, the suffragists have my sympathies. I can’t work out which side you’re on, though.”
“With the women, of course.”
“But you don’t fight with them?” He looked at me, his eyes questioning.
“I’m going to help them with the artwork. I’m not the fighting type.” I twirled my beret around my hand.
He grinned. “And an artist can’t fight?”

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for A Mad, Wicked Folly

• "At equal turns humorous and heartbreaking. . . . A must-have first purchase."—School Library Journal, starred review
"Waller’s intriguingly sympathetic characters, effortless and effective blend of history and romance, passion for her subject, and swift-paced plot make her a new YA voice to watch."—Booklist, starred review

"An enjoyable historical romp."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] compelling coming-of-age tale that’s as good as any British period drama. . . . The Edwardian world here is so immersive and Vicky so likable that readers will want to put on the kettle on and settle in for a lovely read."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Nominated for the American Library Association's 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project List

Meet the Author

Sharon Biggs Waller grew up around artists and developed a passion for Edwardian history and the Pre-Raphaelites when she moved to England in 2000. She did extensive research on the British suffragettes when she wasn't working as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. Her favorite painting is A Mermaid, by J.W. Waterhouse. She is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a ten-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark.

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A Mad, Wicked Folly 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Andrea17 More than 1 year ago
A Mad, Wicked Folly is one of those books that make me angry. Not because they're bad or anything along those lines, but because they portray and take place in a time where women had no voice. It's hard for me to fathom a time when women were truly considered the weaker sense and had no "understanding" about certain things. Where they went to school to learn how to be a wife and mother. One of the characters even comments that if a man were to do what Violet is doing he would be admired, but because Violet has a vagina she is considered to just have bad behavior. Okay, he doesn't actually say "because she has a vagina," but I'm paraphrasing here. I like Violet, a lot. All she wants to do in the world is draw. She sneaks away from her reform school to draw with a bunch of boys, disobeys her parents demands, and applies to an art school all on her own and in secret. She is defying everything she has been taught to follow her dreams. How can you argue with a character like that? Lucy, an American that Violet meets outside one of the suffragistes events, I knew immediately that I was going to be fond of. She's the one who initially puts the thoughts of helping / becoming a suffragette into Violet's head and it's her words that appear to push Violet in the right direction (or wrong direction depending on your view point). And slowly but surely, becomes an excellent friend and confidant of Violet's. Then there's Will and Edmund. To those of you who detest love triangles, and I'll admit I've come across one or two in my time that were rather annoying, don't fret! Sharon handles this issue with dignity and grace. It is neither annoying nor obnoxious, nor is it cliche. Nor is it really a love triangle, but I can't go into those details without stating spoilers. Just know that the romance aspect of this novel is perfect.  I have a soft spot for historical novels and A Mad, Wicked Folly is not different. Sharon clearly did her research (she also includes some notes at the end about this time period) and I loved turning to Google to look up the fashion and the historical figures she discusses. Sharon's characters come alive in a real time period during a real struggle for women. One of things I love is that she shows characters (men and women) on both sides of the suffrage struggle, which allows us a full glimpse into early 1900s London. Filled with a sweet romance, women fighting for their rights, an exceptional cast of characters, and wonderful writing A Mad, Wicked Folly is definitely a novel that any one a fan of history and even those who aren't (yes, it's that good!) will enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story hit on all the sweet spots - historical fiction in the Edwardian era, the suffrage movement, and the pre-raphaelites. The artistic point of view was dead - on, and just enough action and romance to keep the pages turning. Loved it!
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
Wanting to read something in another time period and hearing so many rave reviews about this book, I picked it up for a rainy day read. And it was perfect. Plot: This story is in the 1900′s where women and beginning to fight for their rights in society. One thing about this plot is that it is filled with great diversity in what women went through back in the day. From social stigma to arranged marriages. This plot never felt boring. Love: I really like this area. Back in the day women got their social status and money from the man they marry. So naturally they had to marry up whether they liked the man or not. It really neat to explore the pressure to marry “up” and how society looked down on a man who did not have money. The comments that where made as well as the degrading names really brought this area to life for the reader. Ending: The ending is so good that I’m wondering if there will be a second book. I sure hope so. It ended with a cliff hanger that certainly makes me want more. If you enjoy historical with a coming of age story about a young women fighting for her place in society, then you must read this book! It jammed-packed with amazing women all changing the world one step at a time. I can’t wait to see what will happen next. A Mad,Wicked Folly is a sensational read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friend has the book
PCRachel More than 1 year ago
FULLY posted on Beauty and the Bookshelf! 4.5 Stars! Thinking about it, I can't find any complaints or issues with this book. While I may have peeked ahead a few times, it wasn't really because of the book. I just wanted to see when a certain character would be in the book! So even though I was slightly frustrated when a certain character wouldn't make an appearance for dozens of pages, I think that was about it. Something about this book was just GOOD. A large part of what made A Mad, Wicked Folly such a great novel was the writing. Waller wrote the story wonderfully, with a style and voice that matched the 1909 era. I mean, it wasn't Shakespeare and hath not doth this and all that, but it wasn't contemporary writing, and there were some words and phrases that were obviously from a different time period, for I didn't know what they meant. (Also not a complaint, just an ode to the writing style.) In fact, I don't know if this book would've been so successful if it wasn't written the way it was. And I will most definitely be reading the future works of Waller. Vicky was a likeable, strongheaded POV/MC who tried her hardest to succeed and fulfill her dreams. It was hard to be a woman during that time period (and for many, many years after) and do what you wanted to do. Class, level, and society were extremely important, and you didn't want to fall below the ranks of the high and mighty. But even with all that, Vicky continued to persevere and try to make her dreams come true, even her brother Freddy, but I wasn't too fond of her stuffy parents. I liked her friends, but I could not stand her fiance or his father. I did, however, fancy her muse-of-sorts, Will. I wanted more and more of him. He was just who needed Vicky needed in her life, and he was totally swoony and wonderful and we can please have a sequel with lots and lots of Will? Each character was their own character, if that makes sense, and most seemed like they had purpose to the story. A big part of this novel revolves around the rights of women. While this is a fictional novel, it has bits and pieces of non-fiction mixed into it, which was great. We see how women are treated of various classes, and by strangers, acquaintances, and family. Really, it's just ridiculous. Women couldn't do crap in 1909. Why, women shouldn't vote, because they'll get ideas, and they shouldn't have an opinion! It was horrid how women, who simply wanted a say in things and to be treated as equals, were treated. (Being force-fed through a tube really did happen, people.) But this book accomplished weaving history with a fictional story, and it was well done. (Also, boys, watch how you treat us women. Without us, you've got nothing. And you'll get nothing, too.) While I'm not sure if I loved A Mad, Wicked Folly, I do have lots of like for it. It was composed of great writing, true (and hard) history, and even some romance, which I always like. This folly-free novel (please tell me I used that word correctly) has so many aspects that come together to make a high-quality, good piece of YA literature. And while the ending wasn't my favorite (it was somewhat open-ended, at least for the romance-loving me, and I just wanted more), it was still good and worked for the book and the story. I'd suggest you read this book, no matter who you are or what genre you usually read, and to not do so would be a mad, wicked folly.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller Publisher: Viking Juvenile Publication Date: January 23, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl. After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams? What I Liked: I don't even know where to begin with this one! I requested it on a whim, honestly. I didn't really know what it was about, only that it was marked as "historical fiction" on Goodreads, there was romance (though it appeared to be a love triangle - yikes!), and the cover is pretty awesome. But this book ended up surprising me, in the best of ways! I love historical fiction, but I don't read nearly enough historical fiction set in the 1900s. This was a good one! So. Vicky is sent back to London, after getting caught posing nude for her art class. Quickly, her parents try to rectify her scandal. She is forced into an engagement with an actually not bad young man - a good-looking, rich, nice, young man. She is forced to go to another school, where she must learn to dance and curtsy and whatnot. Her parents don't want her drawing or sketching - they detest her art, and they refuse to let her go to an art college. That does not stop Vicky from applying to RCA (the art college), and in fact, she wants to get married to Edmund, because he is rich, and can pay for the college's tuition. But things don't go as planned. Vicky gets caught in a suffragette mob, and gets arrested by the handsome William Fletcher. Strangely enough, after the arrest, she and Fletcher develop an odd friendship, and begin seeing each other. Vicky draws for Fletcher's novelette (stories), and Fletcher poses for Vicky.  But the suffragette movement is HUGE in this book, and it does not just go away. While Vicky accidentally got arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, her "involvement" does not stop there. Eventually, she begins painting and drawing for the suffragettes. Women around her are suffragettes - people she would never have seen or thought to be. I really like Vicky, but I especially like her character development. In the beginning of the novel, she is rash and dramatic and silly. All she cares about is her art and going to art college. By the end of the novel, she realizes just how much those things mean to her, and she makes concessions for those things. She gives up things, important things, in order to have a clear view of the future. Vicky at the start of the novel wouldn't have thought about the future in the same way that Vicky at the end of the novel does. The romance in this book is interesting, to say the least. Vicky is forced into an engagement with Edmund, but there is nothing there. However, the entire book is spent with Vicky being engaged to Edmund. That's part of the plot (along with the suffragette movement). However, Vicky's heart truly belongs to one police constable - Will. I love the decisions that Vicky makes throughout the novel, involving Will. Some are very mature and grown-up, even if they are difficult. The suffragette movement is a poignant part of this novel, and I love how Waller depicts it. Keep in mind, it is the suffragette movement in England, NOT in the United States. Waller makes this plot important, but not overwhelmingly so. Vicky becomes braver as the novel goes on, but she does not become a martyr, or something that she is not (or never will be). Yes, Vicky makes crucial decisions that impact the movement in small ways, but the author does not make Vicky anything that she is not (nor will be). But I think Waller did a great job of portraying this HUGE historical event. I have to hand it to her - she did her research VERY well! And the extra information in the back of the book is awesome and much appreciated! I don't know what you all are thinking, about this book and its plot, but trust me when I say that the ending is very real, and it's... it's a good ending. Vicky really has to grow up, in the last part of this book, but the ending is definitely fitting of this growth. I liked it! I liked this book very much. What I Did Not Like: One thing that really stuck out to me was the slow beginning. Like, the first 100 pages or so are soooo slow. I contemplated not finishing this book (would be a FIRST for me, EVER), or pushing off, even though I had my review slated for today (the 22nd). I started reading this book on the 20th, and didn't get very far (maybe 40 pages?). I started again on the morning of the 21st, and I found that I could NOT get into the book. But, me being me, I don't just not finish books, so I pushed through the first part of the book. Things started to pick up, and I began to become interested in the story, so then I started worrying about finishing in time for the 22nd and writing the review, and started actually reading. But seriously, the beginning was slow. If you are reading this book, and are considering not finishing, keep going! It gets better!  Would I Recommend It: YES! Definitely recommend this to historical fiction fans. If you love historical fiction - especially historical fiction set in other countries, and historical fiction set in the early 1900s - then this is a book for you.  And even if you don't like historical fiction, or don't read much of it, I promise you that this is a good read! It's lengthy, but it's worth every page. Rating: 4 stars. I'm so glad I took a chance with this novel! Now that I've actually read it, I can't believe I ever considered NOT reading this book!