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A Mad, Wicked Folly Hardcover – January 23, 2014

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (January 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670014680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670014682
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—In 1870, Queen Victoria made the astonishing declaration that women's rights were a "mad, wicked folly." This statement was the inspiration for Waller's impeccable debut novel about a young English woman who is talented, beautiful, passionate, and wealthy. Despite these advantages, Victoria Darling struggles with the harsh limitations imposed upon women prior to and during the Edwardian era of 1901-1910, which curtail her attempts to attend art school. While Victoria does not initially associate with the Suffragette Movement, she ultimately discovers that her fate is intertwined with the cause. The first-person narrative in her earnest voice helps readers to more intimately understand the rampant frustration felt by thousands of women during that time. Waller vividly describes the unbearably restrictive corsets for women, the force-feeding implemented to undermine protesters during hunger strikes, and notable individuals who helped in the movement. At equal turns humorous and heartbreaking, readers will chuckle at Victoria's exploits (climbing out a bedroom window, being stuck mid-curtsey before King Edward in court) and admire the brave sacrifices she makes to pursue her dreams. There is enough detailed information throughout to make this a useful and fascinating book to pair with nonfiction resources about women's history. A must-have first purchase.—Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Historical fiction fans are in for a treat. Seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling scandalizes 1909 proper society when she poses nude for the fellow students in her life drawing class. Aghast, her parents hastily bring her home to London from French finishing school and attempt to salvage her reputation. They secure an arranged marriage to a wealthy young man who will join and later inherit the Darling family business: indoor flush toilets. But Vicky is not about to put aside her lifelong dream of becoming an artist, and she secretly applies to the Royal College of Art. She also discovers the suffrage movement and a handsome young constable who supports the suffragettes. This historical romance has all the elements dear to readers of the genre: forbidden love, great fashion details, and impossibly beautiful protagonists, but the feminist tone and art history focus distinguish the debut novel. Readers will appreciate the way Vicky takes the suffragette motto “deeds, not words” to heart, making the difficult decisions that allow her to grow into a strong and independent woman. Waller’s intriguingly sympathetic characters, effortless and effective blend of history and romance, passion for her subject, and swift-paced plot make her a new YA voice to watch. Grades 7-12. --Debbie Carton

More About the Author

Sharon Biggs Waller grew up around artists and developed a passion for Edwardian history and the Pre-Raphaelites when she moved to England in 2000. She did extensive research on the British suffragettes for her novel when she wasn't working as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. She is the author of three non-fiction books about horses under her maiden name, Sharon Biggs. She is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a 10-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark. Visit her at www.sharonbiggswaller.com.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 35 customer reviews
I loved the characters and I loved the romance.
Nori (Nori's Closet)
I adore this book and it is one I can definitely see myself reading over and over again.
Crystal in Bookland
I'm a fan of historical fiction, and this book was a great read.
amanda l breidenstein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa on January 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: January 23, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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?

What I Liked:

I don't even know where to begin with this one! I requested it on a whim, honestly. I didn't really know what it was about, only that it was marked as "historical fiction" on Goodreads, there was romance (though it appeared to be a love triangle - yikes!), and the cover is pretty awesome. But this book ended up surprising me, in the best of ways! I love historical fiction, but I don't read nearly enough historical fiction set in the 1900s. This was a good one!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stormy(Book.Blog.Bake.) on June 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A Mad, Wicked Folly quickly caught my attention as several bloggers I trust read and loved the book. Everyone seemed to love this debut novel with it’s lush historical details and it’s spunky lead who just wanted to follow her passion for art, rules of society be damned. I became enamored with the book from the synopsis, and was eager to fall in love with this book as much as all my friends did. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. As I read, I grew increasingly frustrated at Vicky and the plot of A Mad, Wicked Folly. While I loved the last seventy pages and found it redeemed in the end, I can’t shake all the issues I had with this book leading up to that point.

The opening chapter got me started off on the wrong foot with Vicky. She starts the story by making the decision to pose nude for her art class, which is a pretty standard decision, considering all the other students have done so, but then the artist go off to have lunch and Vicky makes remark about how she wants to be an artist, and not paint “what most other women” paint–things of still life and flowers, things that have no value. She’s rather snide about the whole thing.

And that’s what really got me about Vicky. For saying she supports the suffragettes in theory, and supports other women in theory, she seems to look down on other women the majority of the time. She seems convinced that she’s the only person to care about something, and behaves pure selfishly in a child-like way. I am all for a character who is passionate, but not when that comes at the expense of others. See, Vicky “gets involved” with the suffragettes, but her main reason for doing so? She thinks if she helps them with art, she can get a recommendation letter out of it to apply to the Royal College of Art. That’s it. That’s her reason.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lisa from Read.Breathe.Relax. on June 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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