Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper (June 2011, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, ISBN: 0747599122)
Notes: The following review is written by Amanda Gillies who reviews crime fiction on my Euro Crime website. You can read her crime reviews here and her YA reviews here.
Review: What a beautiful book this is! Exquisitely written and with such a brave young lady as its heroine, I loved every page - from start to finish. Aside from being chock-full of classic Victorian Villains and Damsels in Distress, Fallen Grace is very informative and interesting in terms of the information it contains about the harsh realities of life in Victorian England. It is also full of fascinating facts about the Victorian’s apparent obsession with death, mementos and funeral ceremonials.
Without wanting to spoil things for the reader, sisters Grace and Lily have fallen on hard times and just about manage to get by on the money they make selling water-cress on the streets of London. Sadly, things get even worse for them when their boarding house is pulled down and they have nowhere to live. In desperation, Grace turns to the Unwins for help and is employed as a funeral mute in their family undertakers business. Her sister, Lily, becomes a maid in the family home. The Unwins are unscrupulous people and discover a secret about Grace and Lily that the sisters know nothing about. Determined to steal what rightfully belongs to the girls, the Unwins look as if they will stop at nothing to achieve their evil ends. But Grace is a resourceful girl and won't rest until she discovers what they have done with her beloved sister…
The superb twist at the end of Fallen Grace is sure to bring a tear to your eye and had me dabbing at mine on the bus. Just beautiful. Mary Hooper is a fabulous author and this book is one of the best I have read this year. Very highly recommended.