Defy stereotypes, defy conventions, defy YA.
Synopsis of A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller: 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?
My two centsThis was a win over on Goodreads some time back and for some reason it got buried in my piles and didn't get read right away. Interestingly, I put my name in for it because of its synopsis—Vicki's character appealed, a young woman who defied stereotypes and conventions of the time: Posing in the buff in the 1900s! Daring to be a "serious" artist during a time when this was the domain of men! Getting involved in the suffragette movement!
Maybe the ball gown should've tipped me off that this is YA ... not that it even matters; this book is extremely well written and researched young adult historical fiction. I urge particularly teens to read it. It's got a great storyline with a spunky heroine, a coming-of-age arch, and the details of this era are an eyeopener into the world that was off limits to women, if not for the efforts of the suffragettes.
Verdict: Young girls will not only be inspired by the story of Vicky, but also more cognizant of the fact that the world has been shaped by women like her who have dared to defy convention. Read, learn, be inspired! Highly recommended young adult reading!
I won an ARC on Goodreads First Reads.