Each day Grace must find a new way of earning enough money to pay the rent for the bleak, cold room that she and her sister live in, and to buy them enough — just — to eat.
But there is a another danger threatening Grace, a danger linked to an event in her past that she is desperate to forget. Grace has caught the eye of the Unwins, an unscrupulous family whose shady business dealings are those of death and mourning. The Unwins will stop at nothing to defraud Grace of what is rightfully hers..
I found Mary Hooper years ago when I was going through my YA historical stage, I found her 'The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose' which I loved, so I knew when I saw this that I had to read it, unfortunately I forgot about it until I opened up my Bloomsbury package yesterday and found a paperback copy in there. I devoured it in a few hours.
Hooper has an amazing skill when it comes to place and time, she set the book in 1861 and writes so well that the reader forgets that it's really the 21st century, the writing is that fantastic. I have often found that historical novels have one of two problems with the writing; they either try too hard and the narration sounds forced or the writing doesn't sound historical making the narration seem contemporary. Hooper doesn't have either of these problems as her narration seems completely natural. Hooper also covers the issue of poverty and in my opinion the writing sort of (excuse the corny phrase) brings history to life.
The story is simple and this makes the book pretty easy to understand, everything falls into place very nicely (maybe a little too nicely) and the story is told clearly so there is little chance of becoming confused. Hooper also gives us a fantastic gang of characters, I loved Grace, she is really strong and can stand up for herself against the bad guys, the bad guys are well developed and we can see their motives. I really liked Lily, one of the most likable characters, a simple but lovely girl she has some quirky moments but it's her parts that touch the reader most. There is also a steady romantic development between Grace and a law assistant called James that is established pretty early on, and wile Hooper doesn't actually tell us what happens between them is left on a note of hope which I liked.
My main problem with this book was the point of views, the book is written in third person and doesn't stick to following one character, which made this book a bit jumpy. In my opinion, the way that one moment it was Grace's story, then The Unwin's at one point even James's and Lily's may have given insight into the plot and the characters but it also disrupted the flow a little.
I also had some issues with the pacing, while the story is engrossing the pacing was a little slow which can be a little frustrating at some points, however this is only a very miniscule flaw.
All in all a great book, telling a great story in a very convincing way. Despite some pacing and perspective problems this books gets:
Overall rating: B
Stand alone/series: Stand alone
Paperback Release: June 13th 2011
Book obtained via: Sent by Bloomsbury