A Mad, Wicked Folly isn’t your grandmother’s historical fiction novel…
Book Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Title & Author: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fiction
Release Date: January 23, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
How I Got the Book: Bought
“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?”
YA Historical Fiction With Purpose
Unlike almost all young adult historical fiction books I’ve read, A Mad, Wicked Folly does not remove the very limiting and unromantic aspects of women and their available futures in the early 1900s. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very romantic book with a love triangle for crying out loud, but it doesn’t shirk the very real and scary nature of women’s rights during that time.
I love books like Cinders and Sapphires, but it almost makes me feel sad about them now. I definitely enjoyed them so much, but seeing what options were available to women back in the day, it unromanticizes the fact that forced marriage was often the easiest and most comfortable choice.
Although this reality is more bleak than the “oh which beau will I try on today” scenes in many historical fiction books, A Mad, Wicked Folly still knew how to bring the action. Things did not go how I imagined they might during the book, but I think the author kept the events of the book upbeat and historically faithful.
In fact, one of my favorite parts of the book was the addendum at the back that listed some of the actual events that inspired the book’s happenings. Some were only changes slightly, while others had more liberty taken.
I was impressed with all the research and knowledge Waller included. It really added a great deal of depth an insight into a time I really didn’t know much about (not in England, at least).
Can I just say how much I HATED Vicky’s parents. Simply the worst set of parents I’ve ever heard described in a book. The worst part is their opinion of their daughter seems like the norm for that time. They could have been anyone’s parents. Yuck.
The only thing I had wished there had been more of was the supposed parties and balls that Vicky is supposed to attend. She is described in several situations as being at a gathering, but it’s without the usual frilly descriptions of the food and decor that I normally enjoy.
I understand why they were omitted, but I was hoping for them, thinking this book was similar to other historical type settings during this time period.
This book is perfect for a strong dose of history, women’s rights and romance. Although you may feel conflicted about which one you want the most while reading, this standalone YA fiction will not disappoint. The very strong heroine and the rich historical details really set A Mad, Wicked Folly apart from the rest.