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Velvet Paperback – July 5, 2012

3.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-A Victorian novel with a hint of romance. Sixteen-year-old Velvet Groves is struggling to make it on her own and trying to get away from her past. When she faints during her job as a laundress at London's Ruffold's Steam Laundry, she pleads for another chance and is assigned to attend to the clothing of Madame Natasha Savoya, a well-respected medium. Once she is in the mysterious woman's home, she finds herself attracted to Madame's handsome assistant and her glamorous lifestyle. Readers learn about the roles mediums played during the height of spiritualism, and Velvet slowly realizes that her elegance-loving employer preys on bereaved people, tricking them out of their fortunes. However, out of fear that Madame will bring up Velvet's past and she'll lose her new life, the teen cooperates. Eventually, her conscience catches up with her and she decides to expose the two-faced woman. With some very good twists and turns, the novel does an excellent job of depicting the era, characterizing the hardship women faced and breaking down the many tricks mediums used. An author's note is appended.-Jesse L. Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA α(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When wealthy, elegant Madame Savoya rescues Velvet from the oppressive laundry where she works, the young woman can hardly believe her good fortune. Early 1900s London offers few opportunities for poor women trying to support themselves, so for Velvet to be set up in Madame’s household to assist with her séances seems like a fairy tale come true. Spiritualism is all the rage, and Edwardian Londoners flock to Madame’s to try to connect with loved ones on the other side. The trickery behind the medium’s methods gradually surfaces, and while Velvet is still awestruck by her good fortune, doubts begin to form, triggered by a stunning plot to “bring back” the deceased infant of one of the clients. Hooper has penned a lively historic tale, rich with fascinating details of daily life and the spiritualist movement particularly. Best of all is engaging heroine Velvet and her journey of discovery from innocence to hard-nosed reality. Strong characterizations will draw in the reader, and appended historical notes top off the tale nicely. Grades 6-10. --Anne OMalley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition edition (July 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747599203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747599203
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for this eARC!

The blurb calls this book "romantic" and "thrilling." The fact is, this book is neither.

Honestly, I was expecting so much more from this book. The premise was interesting, and Mary Hooper is an established historical fiction writer. Sadly, this book plays on too many historical fiction cliches that bother the heck out of me.

The first problem is the way the book was written. I have no idea why so many historical fiction books think they need to ramble on like historical pieces of the times. Yes, I understand there is certain language you can and cannot use when writing in historical periods, but we've cut out the rambling in modern day books for a reason. This is certainly a personal thing as well, since I prefer all unneccesary words to be cut, but still. It bothers me, and it made me iffy about the book from the get go.

The second was the characters. Apart from Madame Savoya, they were all pretty flat and generic. Velvet annoyed me especially, since she had the potential to be such a strong main character, but then fell into the utterly gullible and naive cliche. She toyed with Charlie (a boy from her past who is inexplicably smitten with her even though she brushes him off at every turn), with whom there was NO connection of any real kind, no matter how much they protested there was, and then she was completely taken in by both Madame Savoya and George, her assistant.

The kicker came with the ending-or rather, the lack thereof. I hit the button on my Kindle for the next slide and NOPE. Nothing. I literally couldn't believe it. Looking back on those two pages or so, I guess they do suggest an ending, but it's NOT a finished one. Not by a long shot.
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Format: Paperback
Homeless and starving, Velvet was fortunate to find a job at Ruffold's Steam Laundry and a tiny room to call her own. In 1900 Victorian England, she fights for survival every day against the heat and backbreaking labour. When an opportunity arises for a higher position, Velvet works her fingers to the bone keep her role as a personal laundress for the wealthy spiritual medium Madame Sayoya.

However, mistakes do happen and Velvet is fired. By a stroke of luck she is welcomed into the home of her best client. Now a part of the spiritual community, Velvet follows the rules to a T to ensure every séance of Madame's goes without issue. She falls in love with Madame's handsome assistant George and plans her future of finery. As time passes, cracks form in her wonderful world and Velvet must face her past and confront dangerous secrets.

Velvet takes an age-old story of a struggling girl in London during a period when fortune-tellers, mediums and paying for spiritual consultants were a fashionable hobby. Mary Hooper takes it a step further by weaving other historical aspects that are less flattering about this time period. It's an easy and engrossing read that will keep you turning pages to learn more about how mediums tricked innocent patrons and if Velvet can survival being stuck in a web of lies.

I've always had a fondness for historical fiction. Perhaps it began with C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books. I was always fascinated by historical England just as much as what occurred in Narnia. I absolutely feel in love with the imagery and storytelling of Victorian England. It's extra enjoyable when part of the setting is around the corner from where one presently lives. Hooper does her research and she does it well.
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By Jessie Smoldt on December 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i didnt really realize what the book was about but i stopped reading it after a whlie into it so i dont think ill keep it now.
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Format: Hardcover
I really have to be honest and say that I must not have read the book description accurately when I requested this book. I think I saw the name Mary Hooper (who I've wanted to read) and Victorian age and just jumped. I'm sure if I had really noticed that this focuses around spiritualism, I might not have been so eager to read it.

The only thing that kept me reading once I realized what this book was about was Velvet. Her background was intriguing. I admired her strength to survive because it couldn't have been easy to go from being provided for to having to get by on your own. I was surprised at her own actions when her father died. It may have made her feel incredibly guilty, but he made it easy to walk away. The only flaw was that she was so eager to step up in the world she completely turned a blind eye to Madame Savoya and to George (her partner). I know in this time period, it was far to easy to believe that mediums were real. But, I kept wanting her to see the truth. And that is why I kept reading.

So my dislike of this book completely lies in the spiritualism aspect. Which really does not make it fair to this book. I liked the style, the writing, and our lead character. But for some reason, spiritualism just rubs me the wrong way. I hate the idea that they were tricking people out of their money, especially when it came to lonely rich widows. I dislike that each medium came up with new tricks to outdo their competitors. I especially disliked some of the tactics that Madame Savoya pulls in this book. She's a downright nasty women.

That being said, I will still read another book by Mary Hooper. I have my eye on another series of hers. I will however, try to stay as far away from books were spiritualism is the focus from now on.
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