My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This YA historical novel was a quick & pleasant read, well-written and quite informative. I’d no idea about Victorian mourning customs, but found the details given here just as interesting as the plot.
15-year-old Grace is a “fallen woman” after being molested by a stranger in the training school she’d been sent to with her sister Lily. Lily is older, but “simple,” and from the time the girls were orphaned, ten years ago, Grace has been looking out for her. Grace has given birth to a still-born child, and in her trip to bury the infant, meets undertaker’s wife Mrs. Unwin and law clerk Mr, Solent: two people who will change her life. After returning to the rooms she & Lily call home, to the streets where they sell bundles of watercress each day, Grace’s life takes a turn for the worse, when their boarding house is condemned, and they must find a new place to live. Starving, homeless, and terrified of the workhouse, Grace seeks out Mr. Solent’s help, only to be turned away by a man at the law firm door. With no other options, she & Lily turn to Mrs. Unwin, and Grace is hired on as a mute, a sort of mourner-for-hire, and Lily is promised a place as a maid in the Unwin’s house. But why?
No spoilers here. Read the book. With cameo appearances by Charles Dickens–whose influence is felt throughout ‘Fallen Grace’– Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this is a book worth reading!