Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Published by: Bloomsbury
The Story: (from Goodreads) Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent.
These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.
My Review: Grace is without a doubt going through something that no mother should have to endure - and especially no fifteen year old mother. Grace and her sister are both extremely poor and Grace can't decide between being relieved that her child won't have to suffer through poverty as she has and being saddened at the loss of life.
This awful event propels Grace and her sister into situations they never saw coming. There are twists and turns that will keep you guessing throughout the book. Grace is a strong heroin who, despite getting hit time and time again with bad luck and tragedy, continues to look to the brighter side of things. She's kind and thoughtful and cares for her somewhat simple sister as best she can. I was left to wonder if Grace would ever get relief from her fallen status and enjoyed learning more about life in the 1800's as I read.
I truly enjoyed this historical novel and am looking forward to more from Mary Hooper.