The Washington Post
Ivyby Julie Hearn
Ivy is used to being overlooked. The youngest in a family of thieves, scoundrels, and roustabouts, the girl with the flame-colored hair and odd-colored eyes is declared useless by her father from the day she is born. But that's only if you look at her but don't see. For Ivy has a quality that makes people take notice. It's more than beauty and it draws
Ivy is used to being overlooked. The youngest in a family of thieves, scoundrels, and roustabouts, the girl with the flame-colored hair and odd-colored eyes is declared useless by her father from the day she is born. But that's only if you look at her but don't see. For Ivy has a quality that makes people take notice. It's more than beauty and it draws people toward her.
Which makes her the perfect subject for an aspiring painter named Oscar Aretino Frosdick, a member of the pre-Raphaelite school of artists. Oscar is determined to make his mark on the art world, with Ivy as his model and muse. But behind Ivy's angelic looks lurk dark secrets and a troubled past a past that has given her an unfortunate taste for laudanum. And when treachery and jealousy surface in the Eden that is the artist's garden, Ivy must learn to be more than a pretty face if she is to survive.
Julie Hearn, author of The Minister's Daughter and The Sign of the Raven, has created a memorable tale of nineteenth-century England with a character destined to take her place alongside Dickens's Pip and Oliver Twist.
The Washington Post
Capturing her audience with her first sentences, Hearn (Sign of the Raven) paints an almost lush picture of a seamy 19th-century London as she describes two ladies from the "Ragged Children's Welfare Association" who "pick their way along filthy streets, the hems of their crinolines blotting up slush and the beads of their bonnets tinkling like ice." (It's not surprising to learn that Philip Pullman was a mentor.) Among the ladies' intended beneficiaries will be the orphan Ivy, a Pre-Raphaelite beauty-although she spends the bulk of the novel groggy on laudanum, an addiction she picks up very young. Ivy is practically passed around, half asleep, as more of a set piece about which other characters can frolic, scheme and swoon. Fortunately, there's plenty of spunk to go around on Ivy's behalf-from the good-hearted con artist Carroty Kate, who takes the child Ivy in, to the bumbling, aspiring artist Oscar Frosdick, for whom Ivy models, despite the efforts of his conniving mother to keep her away. A fast and absorbing read. Ages 12-up. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr 9 Up- In true Dickensian manner, this atmospheric, richly detailed story takes readers from the slums to the upper-class locales of mid-1800s London. Ivy is a victim throughout much of the book, trying to escape villains who seek her demise. Orphaned and living with uncaring relatives, she runs away at the age of five, after bad experiences during her first day at school. Lost, she is lured by Carroty Kate into a gang of thieves, where she becomes addicted to laudanum. Ten years later, Ivy is back with her family, who profit from her work as a model for a pre-Raphaelite artist with an evil, jealous mother. In a fog of addiction, Ivy lives at the mercy of her circumstances until she is finally able to take charge of her future. Quirky characters, darkly humorous situations, and quick action make this enjoyable historical fiction. An afterword about Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his wife Lizzie Siddal as the inspiration for this novel is included.-Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
Read an Excerpt
In Which Ivy Is Treated Rather Badly by Philanthropists in Ridiculous Dresses
Mrs. Hortense Merryfield and Mrs. Christiana Larrington of the Ragged Children's Welfare Association (South London branch) chose a bitterly cold spring morning upon which to patronize the deserving poor of Lambeth.
Picking their way along filthy streets, the hems of their crinolines blotting up slush and the beads on their bon- nets tinkling like ice, they were so obviously out of their element that by the time they reached the corner of New Cut, a sizable crowd of ragged children was on their tail, hopping and flapping and begging for coppers.
"Jus' a ha'penny, missus. Jus' enough for a hot tater."
"It's for me bruvver, missus. Me little bruvver wot's sick."
"Shoo!" cried Mrs. Merryfield. "Scram!" And she waved her umbrella and stood her ground until all but one of the little imps had given up the clamor and scattered. Mrs. Larrington, who was younger than her companion, drew a mohair shawl tighter 'round her shoulders and tried not to seem afraid. This was her first time out among the deserving poor and she was beginning to wish she had stayed in Norwood, among snowdrops and servants and the undeserving rich. Where had they come from, all those ragamuffins? So pale, so dirty, and so clearly half-frozen that they might have sprung fully formed from the slush. Yet they'd had the strength, all of them, to run like bunnikins from the point of Mrs. Merryfield's umbrella. Even the girls had scarpered.
It was the sight of those scarpering girls, Mrs. Larrington realized, that had disturbed her the most. For she herself had never run anywhere. Not even as a child. It wasn't ladylike; it wasn't natural for the female of the species to move so fast.
She was about to say as much to dear Mrs. Merryfield when she felt a tugging at her sleeve. "Ugh!" She shuddered, shrinking away. "Don't touch me, you...you insolent creature."
"I live 'ere, if you please," piped a voice at her elbow. "Only, your dress is blockin' the way."
Looking down over the slope of her crinoline, Mrs. Larrington found her gaze being met by a little scrap of indeterminate age. This, readers, was Ivy, the heroine of our story, but all Mrs. Larrington saw was a small girl with huge hazel eyes and a veritable halo of tangled hair. It was a cross between a nest and a cloud, that hair, and such an extraordinary color that Mrs. Larrington's gloved hand moved instinctively to stroke it.
"Stop! My dear Mrs. Larrington. What can you be thinking of? There will be more lice on this child than you'll find crumbs in a biscuit barrel. First rule of home visitsâ€‰ keep your distance."
And with a prod and a twist, the redoubtable Mrs. Merryfield hooked the crook of her umbrella under the ragged girl's collar and yanked her up and away.
"Oh my," declared Mrs. Larrington as the child rose into the air, flailing like a raggedy fish. "Oh my goodness me."
But the child said not a word, only struggled and gulped while her face turned very pink beneath several layers of dirt and her extraordinary hair whipped around her head in a flurry of tangles and tendrils.
Now, had Mrs. Merryfield's umbrella been a dainty contraption of ruched silk and spindled ivory, it would have snapped for sure. But this umbrella was like its ownerâ€‰ sturdy. Its point had seen off pickpockets, bull terriers, and many a drunken sailor. And its hard wooden handle, carved to resemble a bird with its beak open, was more than equal to bearingâ€‰ temporarily, anywayâ€‰ the weight of a skinny, underfed little girl.
"Oh my," Mrs. Larrington repeated as her companion swung the child expertly across the cobbles and landed her with a barely audible thwunk into a puddle of muck and melting snow. "Oh my goodness me."
"There!" Mrs. Merryfield unhooked the umbrella. "That's more like it." And from somewhere about her person she whipped a rag, one of the many squares of calico she carried for the specific purpose of wiping whichever bit of her umbrella had been used to prod, poke, or occasionally lift the undeserving poor to a distance where neither their lice nor their thieving fingers could threaten her own person.
The little girl seemed too stunned to move. Her bottom would have been turning as wet and cold as a polar bear's, yet she remained in the muddy puddle, staring up in hurt astonishment at the one who had dumped her there.
Mrs. Larrington dithered.
Mrs. Merryfield carried on wiping. All around the handle she went, pressing the rag into every dip and dent of the carved bird and taking particular care with the open beak in case it contained a microscopic helping of lice.
"Oi! What's goin' on? Git up offer them wet cobbles. And oo said you could wear me jacket? Me snazziest jacket wot I bartered me ticker an' chain for down Petticoat Lane and ain't worn meself no more than once, an' that only to check the fit of it."
Mrs. Larrington gave such a start that she almost snapped something in her corset. Mrs. Merryfield (who never bothered with corsets, preferring ease of movement, particularly in Lambeth) turned and raised her umbrella.
"Young man," she scolded, "I must ask you to mind your manners. Such bellowing and agitation is exceedingly rude and quiteâ€‰ "
"Git up, I said. And if me jacket's spoiled, you'll get an 'iding you won't forget in a month of Sundays, strike me if you won't."
And before Mrs. Larrington could unflutter her nerves or Mrs. Merryfield do any more bashing, prodding, or hooking, a ragged boy darted across the cobbles, grabbed the child in the puddle, and whisked her back onto her feet.
"Give it 'ere."
The jacket in question was a soiled but still gaudy blue with brass buttons the size of jam lids down the front. On the child it looked more like an oversized coat. Miserably she shrugged it off and handed it over. Underneath she wore a cotton dress with a pattern of roses faded to smudges. It was tissue-thin, that dress, and she shivered silently in it and swayed a little, her feet still planted in the puddle.
The boy was holding the jacket aloft, inspecting it carefully. He himself wore dark cord trousers, goodish boots, and a plush velvet cap. His waistcoat had two mother-of-pearl buttons left on it, and he had arranged a scarlet neckerchief to cover the place where the topmost buttons were missing. Skinny and grubby though he was, he was clearly a bit of a dandy.
"A rip!" he hollered. "A big rip under me collar! Rightâ€‰ now you're for it." Mrs. Larrington and Mrs. Merryfield exchanged quick glances. A rip, big or small, was not something they were going to be blamed for, or taken to task over, by a grubby little urchin.
Lifting one hand Jared made a lunge for the child. Quick as a cat she ran all the way 'round Mrs. Larrington's crinoline and disappeared down an alleyway.
The boy tried to follow.
"Not so fast, young man."
Mrs. Merryfield's right arm and the length of her furled umbrella blocked the entrance to the alleyway as effectively as any three-barred gate.
"What's your name?" she demanded.
The boy gaped at the umbrella and then up at Mrs. Merryfield as if he couldn't quite believe they were in his way. Mrs. Merryfield regarded him ferociously until he backed down and averted his own scowl. A charity monger. That's what she was. Uglier than a butcher's dog and with a snarl to match, but a do-gooder nonetheless.
He had no time for do-gooders. No time at all. But they could be soft touches, if you played your cards rightâ€‰ he knew that much.
"Your name!?" Mrs. Merryfield demanded again.
The boy appeared to hesitate.
Then: "Jared," he replied, doffing his cap and flashing her a sudden grin. "Jared Roderick Montague Jackson at your service, ma'am."
Mrs. Merryfield's expression remained flinty.
"Ma'am," he repeated, swiveling to bow to the other lady, who, he noticed at once, looked like a much softer touch.
Mrs. Larrington risked a nervous smile. What a long name, she thought, for a pauper.
"Well then, Jared Roderick Montague Jackson," said Mrs. Merryfield, lowering her umbrella. "And you are whatâ€‰ nine, ten years of age?"
The boy puffed out his chest in its partially buttoned waistcoat.
"I turned twelve on Christmas Day, ma'am," he said. "Not that there was much rejoicin' of it. No, nor of our dear Savior's birth, neither. Not with my dear mama an invalid and my papa so sorely reduced in circumstances that there ain't a moment goes by when we ain't all workin' and contrivin' as best we can to pay the rent an' put bread on the table."
Mrs. Larrington's mouth twitched. The boy had pronounced the word "in-val-id" as in "completely without merit" when he had surely meant "in-vuh-lid" as in "a person suffering from chronic ill health." How on earth, she wondered, had he arrived at such an error?
Jared didn't notice, or chose to ignore, her amusement. "Not that we 'as a table no more, ma'am," he continued. "For it went for firewood a fortnight since when it were freezin' so bad the little uns turned blue an' we 'ad no money for coal."
Then he gave a huge sigh and held his jacket to his cheek.
"An' now me jacket's torn," he moaned. "Me best jacket wot I'd intended on sellin' to pay for a bit o' fuel. Me brand-new jacket wot I'd sooner barter to keep the little 'uns warm than wear on me back for so much as a minute. All torn under the collar it is now, an' good for nothin' but the ragman."
With a sorrowful shake of the head he folded the jacket beneath his armpit and patted it once, twice, three times as if it had hurt feelings or a pain in its sleeves. Then he scowled toward the alleyway and shook his fist. "An' there's one oo's still to cop a good thrashin' for rippin' it. So excuse me, ladies...."
"Oh dear," said Mrs. Larrington. "I rather think...there might have been..."
"Halt!" Mrs. Merryfield slapped her umbrella back across the entrance to the alleyway. Her other hand she held up at Mrs. Larrington for silence.
"...some mistake," Mrs. Larrington finished weakly.
Jared paused obediently.
"Young man," said Mrs. Merryfield, "it sounds to me as if your family mightâ€‰ and I stress the word 'might' benefit from an assessment of its current situation."
"It would benny-fit from the price of a sheep's 'ead or a bit o' bacon for the pot," the boy declared solemnly. "And from summat a bit warmer than tater sacks to wrap the babby in."
"Well then," said Mrs. Merryfield, her smile only a little sweeter than vinegar, "perhaps Mrs. Larrington and I should acquaint ourselves with your entire clan. I suggest you lead the way." Copyright © 2008 by Julie Hearn
Meet the Author
Julie Hearn was born in Abingdon, near Oxford, England, and has been writing all her life. A former features editor and columnist, she was studying for a teaching degree when she decided to take a class with Philip Pullman. “You don’t want to teach,” Pullman told her. “You want to write.” She took his advice and became a children’s book novelist.
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Ivy's life isn't exactly picturesque. At a very young age, she is orphaned and forced to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousins, who really can't afford to support another child. Once old enough, she is sent to school, but doesn't even last the whole day. While running from school her beautiful red hair makes Carroty Kate, a thief who literally steals the clothes off of people's backs, catch sight of her and snatch her up.
Forced into becoming a con artist, Ivy is brought into a clan of thieves where every night she is given laudanum in order to suppress the terrible nightmares she faces. Years later she escapes, fleeing back to her aunt and uncle's house. Everyday she works in order to provide for her still-struggling family, while also fighting her addiction to laudanum.
Then one day a young painter, who instantly decides that he must have her as a muse, glimpses her. Ivy and family reluctantly agree, as the money is good, and it could have its benefits. Ivy soon realizes, though, that modeling isn't what she imagined as she deals with a jealous mother, a familiar band of thieves, a persistent addiction, and a way too controlling cousin.
IVY is a great historical novel. There is so much to learn from this brilliantly written story that it was hard to see it end. Not only are there historical facts, but also some life lessons that still apply in modern times.
Ivy was by far one of the more interesting characters that I've ever read about. She has many quirks and led a terrible life. It was great to see a fully-developed character whose personality, however weird it may be, shone throughout the story. I really liked how Ivy was so mature for most of the story, but still had a childlike aspect to her when the reader found out how much of a passion she had for animals. She was so excited by the fact of getting to work with dogs that at one point in the story it almost seemed like she had transformed herself into a girl who hadn't had any hardships.
I also really liked how Ivy learned that modeling wasn't the best thing. Even though the story is set in Victorian England, Ivy still faces the problem of dealing with jealousy and not being good enough, which is something I'm sure many people in this day and age can relate to, as well. She also shows people how much trouble an addiction can cause, and also how hard it is to break it.
Overall, Julie Hearn did a great job recreating a very real Victorian England. Fans of historical fiction will absolutely devour this book. I am very much looking forward to reading more of Ms. Hearn's work and will definitely recommend this book to many.
When I picked this book up I thought that it would be very different from how it ended up. To start the main character is very hard to understand. She starts out as a child, in the novel, and she seems sweet, but we never really find out who she is, or what she is about. Then we jump to the present, and she is addicted to drugs, which is kind of strange because she can just stop and start at any time (unlike a real addict). I never fully understood Ivy, which made the book unsatisfying. Also the end was haphazardly sewn together, and made no logical sense. However, this was an easy read, so if you have only a few days to make a deadline for a book report or something this is an okay book for that.
it was verry intertesting!!!!!!
Ivy's life is far from picturesque. Orphaned at a young age, she moves in with her in-laws, a poor family of scoundrels. At the age of five, she runs away and finds herself an addition to a troupe of thieves, in particular, the "skinner" Carroty Kate. In order to silence Ivy's screams in the middle of the night caused by nightmares, Kate starts giving Ivy laudanum, one drop at time. Eleven years later Ivy is back home with her family, when her bright red hair and pale beauty catches the eye of a pre-Raphaelite painter, who wants her as his muse and model. Ivy is forced into an arrangement with the artist, Oscar Aretino Frosdick, by her bullying Cousin Jared and her "invalid" aunt, who desperately want the money. But not everyone is happy with this, including Ivy who escapes through her addiction and Frosdick's jealous mother. Ivy must now decide what she wants from her life, only made more difficult when her past comes back to haunt her. I really enjoyed this book. I love books set in London, particularly the Victorian-era, so this book definitely was a treat. I loved how this book was romantic, but not in the traditional "girl-loves-boy" kind of way. The intentionally anachronistic writing oozed charm and humor, and the chapter headings were great. An example is "Chapter Twenty-five: In Which Oscar's Physical Well-Being Is Once Again at Risk." The plot was very Dickensian, and I couldn't help comparing it to Oliver Twist in my mind. The characters were quirky, and Ivy was a good protagonist. She had flaws and strengths. I liked how despite everything she has been through, she still maintained a childlike fascination with animals. I do recommend this book and it's beautiful cover art. I went in expecting some typical rags-to-riches romance, but was pleasantly surprised.
Although this book was enjoyable at some points, I found it confusing and rather hard to follow. Although the main character(Ivy) seems to have a good ending, we never find out about most of the other characters and the entire book seems to have no point. I would reccomend this book if you have nothing else to do, but frankly I thought it was a waste of time.
Ivy has never had a good life. When she was young, her father died and her mother abandoned her. Her aunt and uncle that took her in weren't too kind either, and she was constantly mocked by her female cousins and beat by her cousin Jared. She's humiliated and punished when sent to school, so she runs away, only to join a band of thieves who start her laudanum addiction. As she grows older though, her fiery locks catch the eye of an artist, and she becomes his model. Yet problems persist in the form of a jealous mother, a familiar band of thieves, a controlling cousin, a drug addiction, and a realization that modeling can be a painful experience. Ivy was an enjoyable historical novel even though the story had it peculiarities. For example, Ivy had an aversion to eating meat, which is never completely explained but probably has something to do with her love for all animals. The motives of several characters were often befuddled and unclear, and Ivy was the only well-developed character, although I didn't like how she was always at the mercy of others and rarely made decisions for herself. Despite its drawbacks, Ivy's journey from thievery to a respectable occupation was fascinating in the context of nineteenth-century British society. It was the historical angle and thievery that drew me in, and I'm glad I read this novel. Ivy was a sort of combination between Elizabeth Scott's Stealing Heaven with the thievery aspect, Anna Godbersen's The Luxe with high society and fashion, Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light in respect to the role of women, and Christine Fletcher's Ten Cents a Dance in regard to addictions, the last three also being historical novels. I do recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction, but want against some confusion that may occur while reading this novel.