From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—In 1913 London, Hazel Mull-Dare, 13, leads a sheltered life, attending the Kensington School for the Daughters of Gentlemen and being doted on by her overprotective father. Despite her mother's somewhat unusual, single-minded devotion to her work at the Battersea shelter for dogs, Hazel has a conventional and financially secure life. All of this changes when she and her father, enjoying an afternoon at the races, witness the horrifying sight of a suffragette flinging herself into the path of a horse to draw attention to her cause. An additional shock for Hazel is her father's "breakdown," which sends him to a rest home to recover while Hazel's family and friends protect her from the open secret that he attempted to hang himself. With some of these same friends, including a sophisticated, daring American classmate, Hazel helps stage a "suffrage action" at Madame Tussauds. The resulting uproar gets her into so much trouble that she is whisked away to her grandparents' Caribbean plantation, where she slowly learns of a long-concealed family secret. Despite a few scattered anachronistic expressions that jar readers right out of 1913 and into the 21st century, this novel has an absorbing plot and a strong female protagonist. Readers of Hearn's Ivy
(S & S, 2008) will be happy to recognize Hazel's mother as the heroine, now grown up, of that book.—Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
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"Readers should simply give way to a good story expertly told from a writer who is herself happily unclassifiable." --The Independent
"The strength of this novel lies in its gently comic portrayal of characters seeking escape from the conventions and pretensions of prewar Kensington life. There's a rich vein of social and political material to be found here; readers will also appreciate the hint of irony to be found in the characters' self-absorbed responses to momentous historical events." --The Guardian
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