by Mary Hooper
Release Date: Feb 1, 2011
Source: ARC sent by publisher
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary from goodreads.com:
Life has been nothing but unfair to Grace Parkes and her sister. Penniless, the two orphans manage to stay alive—but only barely, like so many on the streets of Victorian London. And Grace must bear a greater heartbreak, having become pregnant from terrible circumstances and then given birth to a stillborn baby. But the infant's death sets Grace on a new path, bringing her into contact with people who hold both riches and power. A great fraud has been perpetrated on young Grace and her sister, and they are the secret recipients of a most unusual legacy—if only they can find the means to claim it. Mary Hooper's latest offers Dickensian social commentary, as well as malicious fraud, mysterious secrets, and a riveting read.
Poor Grace and Lily have been through so much! Every horrid thing that could possibly happen to them does happen. They are orphans, they are both abused by a benefactor at their workhouse, Grace become pregnant, and her baby dies. And these things all happen at the very beginning of the book, so you can only imagine how hard times become as the story moves on. The story never has a dull moment it hops right along from one scary adventure to the next.
I was most intrigued by Grace's work at the Unwins. The Unwins were in the funeral business, and wow was that a shady business in Victorian London. This book was a real eye opener to how much these business took advantage of those were mourning and in an emotionally weak place. All of the 'neccessities' of funerals were invented in order to make more money. Grace herself worked as a mute. What is a funeral mute, you ask? She stands there and looks spooky, sad, and beautiful to add atmosphere to a rich person's funeral. Can you get any more creepy!? It's really sad the lengths that people like the Unwins went to in order to prey on grieving families.
Grace truly is an admirable character. She perseveres through all of these hardships and survives with her values and morals intact. Her hardships have toughened her up, but they haven't broken her down. And through it all she takes constant care of her sister, too.
Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Bottom Line:This book is a tale of hardship, but it's a story you won't soon forget.