Review 233. Sharon Biggs Waller – A mad, wicked folly.

18079501Title: A mad, wicked folly.
Author: Sharon Biggs Waller.
Pages: 448.
Published: January 23rd 2014 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Sort: Stand-alone.
Source: A Sinterklaas gift from Daisy.
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?

This book came highly recommended by one of my friends and book club members: Debby, so I was thrilled when I got a copy from Daisy last December. I always like historical fiction (and I don’t read enough of them!) and look at that pretty cover. This book didn’t disappoint with all it’s women power.

This book is pretty much everything I look for in a historical fiction. Sharon manages to create a setting that felt very authentic to me. Her descriptions made it easy to get swept away to a time period where women had no rights and their only prospects was getting children and taking care of the household. Every ambitious dream was immediately suppressed with the idea that their only talent should be: obedience to their husband. Her writing-style seemed to capture the essence really well and I felt the frustration from Victoria and the WSPU (suffragette movement).

But the best part for me was our main character. Victoria, also known was Vicky, has one goal and that’s becoming an artist. When word leaks out that she posed nude in front of her art class, Vicky is send home with a scandal. Her father has only one way to deal with the situation and that is marrying her off to the only guy who still shows interest in her. Let’s not talk about the fact that this guy has the personality of a paper sheet and the spine of an earthworm, all wrapped inside a gorgeous body and handsome face. I disliked everything he represented. Vicky is not enamoured by him, but more by the idea of the freedom he could give her during their marriage.

I was really charmed by Vicky and I love how she stood up for the life she wants. Vicky is strong, stubborn and intelligent. No matter how many times she gets told she’ll never be an artist, she isn’t going to back down. The way she fights for her dream is admirable and I also liked her clever tricks that will ensure a future at the University. Her struggle between the life she has and the life she want was nicely portrayed. This especially showed when she becomes more involved in the WSPU, where women do everything to gain their own rights. Her passion for art made me appreciate paintings more. The author had a fantastic way to show how it must feel like to create something beautiful.

The secondary characters we meet here were fleshed out and I instantly liked Lucy and her blunt way of speaking.

This book subtly touches some romance and I was shipping it so hard. I’m almost at a point where I’m going to say I wanted more. It’s slow-burn and it all started out with hate that slowly turned into appreciation, friendship and more. The forbidden aspect about their love made it even cuter and I don’t think anyone can dislike policeman Will. He showed respect and he had his own ways to support the demonstrating women. My heart instantly warmed to him and his soft personality.

The ending left me with a very satisfying, goofy smile. This is an author I’m going to keep an eye on.


  1. Wonderful review, Mel! I too loved the historical aspect of the book, and how the author captured the timeline so perfectly in a way it was also informative. :D

  2. oooh a very shippable ship? I am so tempted to just stop everything and pick this book up (because I am just so weak like that). Anyway, I bought this one AGES ago and haven't been able to read it yet - defs bumping it up on my TBR.

  3. Oh! I've been dying to read this one. I have my eye out for the new cover which I like much better than the old, I think the old cover has more of a contemporary vibe than historical fiction, but either way, I need this story!

  4. I need to read this -- it fell off my radar for a while because I read some not great reviews, but everything you are saying makes me want to forget them. Slow burn? Fierce woman? Sign me up.

  5. I really liked Lucy too! This book was nothing at all what I was expecting (I thought it was a historical fantasy for some reason) but I really enjoyed it!

  6. I really need to read A Mad Wicked Folly! I actually won it from Debby, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Your review reminds me of why I'm interested in it - the setting, the characters and the story. I hope I get to read it soon!

  7. I agree with everything you said here, Mel! It was so easy for me to root for Vicky because she was so determined and passionate about what she wanted to do. The romance was really sweet and shippable as well. :)

  8. I've heard that this book has a strong feminist vibe and that makes me EXTREMELY happy, especially since you corroborate that fact :) Like you, I feel like I don't read enough historical fiction so I really need to get my hands on this one! Oh and I love that the romance was so well done and so slow burn that you were left wanting MORE. Those are the best imo :D Gorgeous review Mel^^ ♥

  9. I agree with everything you said. I thought this book was really well written and touched on important topics. I loved Vicky and I shipped the romance. And YET it just didn't quite WOW me (for a reason that is unbeknownst to me) so it wasn't a favorite of mine. But I still really admired it and would recommend it without hesitation. Great review!

  10. I totally liked this one too!! VICKY WAS AWESOME. The ending, where she was acting a bit toffy, was annoying, but at the same time I thought it was realistic. Like she didn't MEAN to, that was just how she'd been brought up, right?! STILL. I loved the art and the descriptions of how it felt to draw or paint. And I loved that she'd do so much for her passion. :') THE ROMANCE WAS ENTIRELY CUTE.

  11. Yay :D So so happy that you liked this book so much Mel. <3 I have heard some good things about it too. So glad you liked the romance so much :) But aw, I also wish for more romance in most books :p I think I must read this one sometime soon too, maybe :D Thank you for sharing about it sweet girl. <3

  12. I'm so glad you liked it!! :) I really need to read this soon!

  13. Ohhh this sounds so good! Need to check it out!


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