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A Mad, Wicked Folly by [Waller, Sharon Biggs]
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A Mad, Wicked Folly Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Length: 447 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Age Level: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up

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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

Product Details

  • File Size: 2775 KB
  • Print Length: 447 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670014680
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (January 23, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 23, 2014
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,297 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In A Mad Wicked Folly we meet Victoria Darling, a young woman with her heart set on being artist. She has the talent and the drive. Unfortunately, it’s 1909 and women’s rights are still a novel idea. Vicky isn’t going to let anything get in her way. I adored this about her! I also really loved watching her character grow and change as she learned more about the world around her. In the beginning of the story she’s a fairly sheltered young woman (even considering all her daring!) As she becomes involved with the suffragette movement and meets people outside of her “class,” Vicky’s character gets more and more interesting.

As I mentioned before, Vicky is an artist. Her dedication to art and her ambition to attend the Royal College of Art add so much to the story. I loved learning more about what it was like for artists during this time period. From the French art students meeting at a cafe after class to Vicky going to buy her art supplies to the process of applying to the Royal College of Art… it all adds up to (pardon the pun) paint a picture of what the art scene was like.

The suffragette movement was an even more fascinating addition to the story. Any book about a upperclass woman of this time period wanting to do more than marry well would have to include it. I have a general knowledge about the movement but it was interesting to see it from the eyes of a person (even a fictional one!) who would have been involved. This also made for so many awesome female characters. And I loved that the book showed that it wasn’t just an issue for women. Men were involved and supported the movement. I especially liked the addition of a certain young police constable!
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