Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Book: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Released: January 23, 2014
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 384 (Kindle Edition)
Stars: 5+ and ALL THE FLAILS

A Mad, Wicked Folly
How gorgeous is this cover by the way?!?

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?

A wonderfully romantic historical novel by debut author Sharon Biggs Waller. There is so much love put in to this novel, I can't even describe it. Waller definitely did her homework on this one-just check out the index at the back! She included so much real-life description and people of the era. It never feels like you're getting a history lesson, as she ties it all in to the plot in such a way that you can't help but come away from the book just a little bit more knowledgeable.

Vicky is our heroine/MC/plucky little lady whom I adore. She's an extremely talented aspiring artist, has an overbearing (and quite misogynistic) father, a loving brother, and a mother who surprised me. Vicky is outspoken and free-minded, especially as a woman in Britain in the 1900s.

But of course there's the boys. Edmund, Vicky's not totally horrible fiance, and PC William Fletcher. Oh Will, how I like thee. He's so wonderful, and considerate, and a constable to boot! You can't help fall in love with Will over the course of this book.

The suffragettes also play a major role in this story, from the well known, to the ones that Waller invented. I adored them all.

We first meet Vicky in France where she's attending boarding school like a proper young lady in 1900s English society. But she wants to be an artist and therefore takes lessons with a local master where she is the only woman. On the day we first meet Vicky she's in her class and the model is missing. Instead of leaving, or having one of the guys pose (yet again-as they take turns when there's no model), Vicky opts to pose in the nude so the other artists can sketch her. As luck would have it, one of her fellow classmates sees her, tells the headmaster, and Vicky is sent home from boarding school in disgrace. But does Vicky care? Not so much. She just wants to continue to be an artist, with her ultimate goal attending the art college, and she will do anything to achieve her goal-even if it means going along with her parents' wishes.

Her parents, on the other hand, have an entirely different goal for Vicky. Make her into a proper society lady, presenting her to the king, and marrying her off. And that's when we meet Edmund. While he's not totally vile as could have been the case, he's rather apathetic to everything in general.

In the midst of all the wedding planning/house preparing/general boring things expected of women in the early 1900s, Vicky manages to get involved with the suffragettes. I loved this story line. This is when Waller really manages to bring history to life. She takes women that actually lived during this time and weaves them seamlessly in to Vicky's story.

Interwoven through all of this is Will. He becomes Vicky's muse. She draws him constantly for her portfolio. He supports her in a way that no one else does. He provides a much-needed distraction for Vicky when her "regular" life gets too mundane. He's just there for her for when needs it most.

I love, love, LOVE this book so much. I'm already planning to reread it sometime (as soon as my TBR becomes slightly more manageable).  There are so many wonderful parts of this book. One of my absolute favorites is when Vicky is presented. It was laugh-out-loud funny.

While there is definitely some romance (and swoony romance at that), it never overpowers the rest of the story; it truly is a great balance. I wanted to know what happens next, after the end of the book more than anything. With that said, I was more than happy with the conclusion of the book. It was a rather perfect ending to an amazing story.

I would love to gush about this more, but you know I can't. Because you really need to read this for yourself.

I would absolutely rec this book to people. If you like historical fiction, England, women's rights, swoony boys and other things that are awesome, I think you'd like this book. I've already rec'd it to several friends hoping they'll read it soon so we can discuss all the FEELS.

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