Author: Sharon Biggs Waller.
Published: January 23rd 2014 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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 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.