Monday, April 27, 2015

A Mad, Wicked, Folly

Victoria Darling wants nothing more than to become an artist and make decisions about her own life.  Unfortunately, she lives in England in 1909 where women have almost no rights.

After being sent home in disgrace from her boarding school in France, Vicky's parents are strict about how she will be spending her time, and it doesn't include art.  Her mother is only concerned with rebuilding her tattered reputation and getting Vicky married before she does anything else.  She even has the man picked out.  Her father is only concerned with the disgrace she has brought to her family and to his business.

When Vicky finally meets her fiance, she thinks she sees a way out of her father's stranglehold on her life.  She will marry Edmund and be free to live her own life.  It doesn't really matter that she doesn't love him; she barely knows him.  He's handsome, and he seems to enjoy her personality quirks.

In secret, Vicky begins working on a portfolio to submit to the Royal College of Art.  If she can just get proper training, the art world will take her seriously.  It doesn't matter that the RCA accepts very few women.  Vicky believes she can get in if she can show her best work.  This brings us to her other problem.  Her father has taken all her art supplies, so she'll have to be creative there as well.

In her quest to create new art, she crosses paths with the suffragettes, a group of women who are protesting to demand the vote for women.  At first, she just sees the movement as fertile ground for drawing, but the more time she spends with these women, the more she begins to question her place in society and if she will ever have any freedom.

She also begins spending time with a handsome police officer named Will.  Vicky says it's all about art, but could there be more to it than that?

I really enjoyed Sharon Biggs Waller's book about the suffragette movement in Great Britain.  This is one of my favorite time periods and one I wish it got more attention  People just aren't aware of the struggles those early women's rights activists faced.  This book is a great introduction because the reader can learn along with Vicky as she has her own personal awakening.  Highly recommended.

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