Fallen Grace /

In Victorian London, impoverished fifteen-year-old orphan Grace takes care of her older but mentally unfit sister Lily, and after enduring many harsh and painful experiences, the two become the victims of a fraud perpetrated by the wealthy owners of several funeral businesses.

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Main Author: Hooper, Mary, 1948-
Format: Book
Published: New York : Bloomsbury, 2011.
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

It is 1861 London, and 15-year-old Grace, who cares for her childlike older sister, Lily, is on a funeral train to give a dignified burial to Grace's stillborn baby, which was conceived after she was raped. Grace and Lily are in dire financial circumstances-their mother is dead and their father left before Grace was born to seek his fortune in the Americas-and they make ends meet by selling watercress. But Grace's train ride brings her into contact with a series of characters-including a wealthy and corrupt family of undertakers, who Grace and her sister come to work for, and a handsome young lawyer-that dramatically change her fate. There's a Dickensian quality to Hooper's (Newes from the Dead) story (the man himself makes a brief appearance); that which seems random is in fact meticulously planned, and nothing, not even the bundle in Grace's arms, is as it seems. And though Hooper's period descriptions, while evocative, can slow the story at times, readers will be engaged by the twists, turns, and deceits of Grace's rags-to-riches story. Ages 14-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

In the years since their mother's death, Grace Parkes, 16, and her developmentally disabled sister, Lily, 17, have struggled to survive on their own in Victorian London. While surreptitiously depositing her stillborn child, conceived under horrific circumstances, at a cemetery, Grace is offered employment as a "mute" (hired mourner) in the Unwin family's booming funeral business. Desperation soon forces her to take the job, although it means separation from Lily, who is sent to be a maid at the Unwin residence. The crooked, opportunistic Unwins have their fingers in many pies, and when they discover that Lily is heiress to a fortune, they plot to obtain it for themselves. When Lily disappears, it's up to Gracearmed only with wits, beauty and a chance meeting with a young law clerkto find her sister and claim their inheritance. Hooper, author of many historical novels, packs her brisk Dickensian fable with colorful characters and suspenseful, satisfying plot twists. The sobering realities of child poverty and exploitation are vividly conveyed, along with fascinating details of the Victorian funeral trade. (historical note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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