Fallen Grace

( 8 )

Overview

Life has been nothing but unfair to Grace Parkes and her sister. Penniless, the two orphans manage to stay alive-but only barely, like so many on the streets of Victorian London. And Grace must bear a greater heartbreak, having become pregnant from terrible circumstances and then given birth to a stillborn baby. But the infant's death sets Grace on a new path, bringing her into contact with people who hold both riches and power. A great fraud has been perpetrated on young Grace and her sister, and they are the ...

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Fallen Grace

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Overview

Life has been nothing but unfair to Grace Parkes and her sister. Penniless, the two orphans manage to stay alive-but only barely, like so many on the streets of Victorian London. And Grace must bear a greater heartbreak, having become pregnant from terrible circumstances and then given birth to a stillborn baby. But the infant's death sets Grace on a new path, bringing her into contact with people who hold both riches and power. A great fraud has been perpetrated on young Grace and her sister, and they are the secret recipients of a most unusual legacy-if only they can find the means to claim it. Mary Hooper's latest offers Dickensian social commentary, as well as malicious fraud, mysterious secrets, and a riveting read.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It is 1861 London, and 15-year-old Grace, who cares for her childlike older sister, Lily, is on a funeral train to give a dignified burial to Grace's stillborn baby, which was conceived after she was raped. Grace and Lily are in dire financial circumstances—their mother is dead and their father left before Grace was born to seek his fortune in the Americas—and they make ends meet by selling watercress. But Grace's train ride brings her into contact with a series of characters—including a wealthy and corrupt family of undertakers, who Grace and her sister come to work for, and a handsome young lawyer—that dramatically change her fate. There's a Dickensian quality to Hooper's (Newes from the Dead) story (the man himself makes a brief appearance); that which seems random is in fact meticulously planned, and nothing, not even the bundle in Grace's arms, is as it seems. And though Hooper's period descriptions, while evocative, can slow the story at times, readers will be engaged by the twists, turns, and deceits of Grace's rags-to-riches story. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
VOYA - Elizabeth Norton
Fallen Grace opens as sixteen-year-old Grace, an orphan living in Victorian London, slips the body of her stillborn child into another person's coffin. Grace became pregnant after being raped at a training center for poor young women, and she cannot afford a funeral. At the cemetery, she meets the wife of an undertaker who offers her work as a funeral mute. At first Grace refuses, but she finally accepts as things become increasingly desperate for her and her "simple-minded" sister, Lily. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the sisters, a London law firm is seeking them out because their father has died abroad and left them a fortune, and Grace's new employer is attempting to swindle them out of their inheritance. Hooper's novel has a very strong sense of place and a dark, Dickensian feel. Descriptions of the living conditions of the poor are especially vivid. The author does not, however, adequately portray the trauma of rape and of losing a child. Though it is sometimes difficult to keep the large cast of characters straight, Grace and Lily are sympathetic heroines and most of the characters are well developed. The plot has enough twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages and the conclusion, although slightly predictable, is satisfying. An author's note adds historical context and explains key points of the story, such as Victorian mourning customs. This book will require hand selling, but may appeal to fans of historical fiction. Reviewer: Elizabeth Norton
Children's Literature - Veronica Bartles
Sixteen-year-old Grace Parkes and her sister, Lily, are orphans, trying to eke out a living selling small bunches of watercress on the streets of 1860s London. When they come home one day to find the boarding house they have been staying in all boarded up and condemned, they have few options left. Refusing to return to the workhouse, where both sisters had been abused, they turn to the only hope they have left: a shady, money-grubbing family of undertakers who agree to employ the sisters for only a shilling a week, plus room and board. Grace and Lily don't know that their father earned a substantial fortune before he died overseas. Their names are well known among legal circles in London, as the lawyers handling Mr. Parkes' estate search for his heirs, and the girls could inherit great wealth, if they only knew to step forward and claim it. In the style of Charles Dickens' classic tales, Hooper paints a captivating picture of the poverty-stricken working class of Victorian England. Anyone who enjoys Dickens' works is sure to find joy in reading about the Parkes sisters. Reviewer: Veronica Bartles
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Grace, 15, and her mentally slow sister, Lily, 17, have next to nothing. Their mother is dead, and their father left to try to make his fortune in America before Grace was born. They live in a small, shabby boardinghouse and barely sustain themselves by selling watercress on the streets of London. The girls had lived in a home where Grace was being trained as a teacher until she was raped and became pregnant. When the child is stillborn, she must find a way to make sure he is given a proper burial. At the cemetery, she makes the acquaintance of a woman whose family is in the funeral business and, because of Grace's countenance, she offers her a job as a "professional mourner." Thus begins Grace's new life. But not all is what it seems, and the unraveling of lies opens up a new world for the girls. There are only two flaws in this otherwise well-crafted and readable novel: Hooper fails to adequately capture the heartbreak of the loss of a child and, as such, the characterization of Grace falls short. Also, the optimistic ending is contrary to the actuality of the sisters' social situation, and is the only part of the book that feels unrealistic. Otherwise, the clear, descriptive prose beautifully captures the crushing realities of the poor in the 19th century. A compelling read with a Dickensian feel.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Kirkus Reviews

In the years since their mother's death, Grace Parkes, 16, and her developmentally disabled sister, Lily, 17, have struggled to survive on their own in Victorian London. While surreptitiously depositing her stillborn child, conceived under horrific circumstances, at a cemetery, Grace is offered employment as a "mute" (hired mourner) in the Unwin family's booming funeral business. Desperation soon forces her to take the job, although it means separation from Lily, who is sent to be a maid at the Unwin residence. The crooked, opportunistic Unwins have their fingers in many pies, and when they discover that Lily is heiress to a fortune, they plot to obtain it for themselves. When Lily disappears, it's up to Grace—armed only with wits, beauty and a chance meeting with a young law clerk—to find her sister and claim their inheritance. Hooper, author of many historical novels, packs her brisk Dickensian fable with colorful characters and suspenseful, satisfying plot twists. The sobering realities of child poverty and exploitation are vividly conveyed, along with fascinating details of the Victorian funeral trade. (historical note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Amanda Foreman
Hooper writes in beautiful 19th-century cadences, but her story lines pack a 21st-century punch. Nothing feels forced or inserted for mere shock value. Fallen Grace has been impeccably researched, and it shows in every paragraph. There is even an appendix with five historical essays and a bibliography for readers interested in learning more about the era. It should come as no surprise to Hooper's fans that Fallen Grace has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, Britain's equivalent of the Newbery; this is historical fiction worthy of the genre.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599905648
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 816,612
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1130L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

MARY HOOPER is a popular writer for children and young adults, best known for her finely woven historical novels, including Newes from the Dead, The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose, Petals in the Ashes, and At the Sign of the Sugared Plum. She lives in England.

www.maryhooper.co.uk

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Fallen Grace managed to intrigue me and make me want to throw it

    Fallen Grace managed to intrigue me and make me want to throw it across the room all at the same time.

    The plot is fantastic; the main reason I kept reading was because I wanted to know how all the parts came together, even though they were each individual part was fairly easy to figure out. It was like having sections of the puzzle finished and not having the pieces that connect them.

    I like Grace well enough; she's nice, but a bit air headed. Her relationship with Lily was wonderful - I felt like it captured the emotions that come with being a sister, especially to somebody like Lily, wonderfully.

    The villains in this book were truly villainous. Normally I prefer my evil characters to have a history, or be fleshed out a bit more than these were, but I think I actually like the book better with the I-hate-them-because-they're-horrible principal.

    I didn't understand her relationship with James Solent. It worked wonderfully for the book - without it, things wouldn't have tied together nearly as nicely - but I felt like it was based off of something imaginary. I would have liked to see it develop a bit more.

    All in all, Fallen Grace wasn't a bad book. It doesn't stand out very much among the historical fiction currently on the shelves, and it's not perfect. It is, however, very beautifully written with some fantastic characters.

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Bit slow at first but became amazing in the end!

    Great story on the life of two poor girls living in london. Probably one of my favorite books!

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very Interesting

    Full of secrets, twists, and turns, Mary Hooper's Fallen Grace will have readers rooting for Grace and Lilly, two poverty stricken girls, every step of the way, no doubt about it!

    Fallen Grace tells the story of Grace, a girl who has fallen into tough times as of lately. For one, at the the young age of 15, she has give birth to a stillborn baby, and she doesn't know if she should be happy that the child won't have to life a poverty stricken like her and her sister Lilly, or sad that she'll never get the chance to know her baby boy. Though, with this tragedy sets forth a set of various circumstances that will forever change the lives of Grace and her sister, because there are secrets and deceit lying at every corner, but Grace doesn't know it just yet, which leads to the following question: will Grace be able to find out everything before it's too late? Will she and her sister get the great lives they deserves? Better yet, will Grace ever recover from her "fallen" status? Only time and more pages will tell in this richly told and compelling story taking place in the mid 1800s.

    In most ways, Grace is a "saint" so to say, because not only is she strong, hopeful, and kind, but she's taken care of her "simple" but lovable sister Lilly for the majority of their lives. Grace is the kind of girl who constantly has tragedy strike her life, but she doesn't let it get her down, instead she moves on while still keeping hope for a good future. And while I did really like Grace's character, I also felt she was a bit slow on the uptake at times and bit too trusting of people, but those characteristics are partly the reason why this story had such a mysterious undertone to it, so I'll let them go. I also really enjoyed the character of James, a young man who quickly become a good confident of Grace's, and Violet, another girl's who life hasn't always been peachy.

    Though, while the characters in Fallen Grace were fully developed and full of life, I feel that the best part of this novel would have to be the plot, because not only did it constantly leave me guessing, but it painted such an informative view of mid-1800s England for me. I truly always enjoyed learning more about the death scene of England with Grace and Lilly's jobs at the funeral parlor as well as seeing how squalid and rundown some parts of the country were and how that affected the lives of people similar to the main characters.

    Lastly, Mary Hooper's writing was great. As mentioned before, she did a great job of creating a historically accurate view of England as well as characters I'm sure many will come to root for. I honestly can't wait to see what time periods she dives into with her future releases.

    Perfect for fans of mysteries or/and historical fiction, Fallen Grace the a novel to add to your TBR pile!

    Grade: B+

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Cinnamon for TeensReadToo

    Orphaned at a young age, Grace and Lily Parkes barely scrape by living off of the revenue from their watercress-selling operation. When Grace - barely sixteen herself - gives birth to a stillborn baby boy, she embarks on a train ride that causes her to crash head-on into two individuals who ultimately come to define the sisters' messy future. And what a messy future it is, for the entirety of legal London is abuzz over Grace and Lily, two oblivious heiresses to a huge fortune left by their deceased father. A desperate race for the money ensues as the affluent families in London begin to plot for ways to take advantage of the Parkes sisters, and the trusting girls step right into these well-woven traps. Eventually, a boy will rescue one girl, and she will stop at nothing until her sister is by her side once again. FALLEN GRACE is one of those novels you chew through slowly because of its meticulously and beautifully described setting. Ms. Hooper delivers a stunning portrayal of 17th century England, complete with opulent characters and an abundance of child beggars; even the King and Queen make a random appearance. However, the plot turned out to be rather slow in the beginning. I kept waiting for the pacing to pick up: it never did. The entire book felt like an easy rambling walk - unhurried and enjoyable, until you get bored and decide to run like a maniac and feel the wind in your hair instead. A nicely written novel nevertheless, FALLEN GRACE will appeal to avid readers of historical fiction.

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    Posted February 15, 2011

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    Posted August 8, 2011

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    Posted July 3, 2011

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