Review: A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

8 January, 2014 Reviews 25 comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs WallerA Mad Wicked Folly by Sarah Biggs Waller
Series: Standalone
Published by Viking Juvenile on January 23rd 2014
Pages: 448
Genres: Historical
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository
Goodreads
four-half-stars

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?

I’m sitting here trying to figure out what was my favorite bit of A Mad Wicked Folly. It’s quite difficult because this book is fantabulous from all angles and I can’t really pinpoint what, if anything, rises above the rest.

Vicky, the protagonist, is amazing. She’s stubborn, she’s sassy, she’s a tad naive and she’s brave as all hell. Seriously, she poses nude for her life drawing class in the first chapter. Not to be scandalous or anything like that, but because the model flakes, everyone but her has taken a turn at this point and dammit why shouldn’t she? She’s an artist first, woman second.

“There can’t be two sets of expectations, one for them and one for me, the only girl in class. How will I earn their esteem if I don’t pose?”

Let me give you a little bit of insight here. I’m an art kid, I’ve taken years worth of life drawing classes. Modeling for an art class is no joke. You have to stand there in often physically demanding poses without moving a muscle for generally upwards of an hour. Oh and you’re naked and everyone is closely scrutinizing every inch of your body (granted it’s not sexual, BUT STILL). Could you do that? I certainly couldn’t. Vicky can.

Like A Boss

Her boss status merely starts there (literally, first chapter, remember?) Vicky is a woman in Edwardian London. This means she may as well be an end table for all the independent rights and freedoms she’s given by society. This doesn’t stop her from stubbornly snarking her way towards her goals, letting the opposition and criticism she receives at every turn slide off her like water on a duck. ‘Oh I can’t do this? That’s cool, I’ll just do it anyway when you’re not looking.’ A high point of particular note is when she gets sloshed on brandy and starts trolling her (ungodly obnoxious, hateful) soon-to-be father-in-law at the dinner table about his (backwards, infuriating) views of women.

Like A Boss

Though initially reluctant, Vicky is drawn into the women’s suffrage movement. In addition to meeting a cast of kickass ladies, you get to learn something. I was raised by a fairly die hard feminist, so women’s rights have always been a part of my life but for a new generation of readers, A Mad Wicked Folly will open their eyes to some of (appalling) challenges the Suffragettes faced. If the accuracy of the art bits are anything to go by, Waller’s done her homework and sneakily uses romance and fluff to bring home a history lesson.

Like A Boss

Which brings me to favorite part number three: the ship. The romance is well done, it unfolds at a deliciously slow pace. Vicky, bless her heart, can be a bit dense and watching her love interest make obvious moon eyes her that go right over her head whipped me into a frenzy of squees and frustration. The love interest is a sweetie too, I don’t want to give away too much as he’s not immediately obvious (okay it’s pretty obvious if you’re paying attention but whatever, read it yourself, I’m not telling you). He’s sweet and kind and a wonderful compliment to Vicky in a number of different ways.

The takeaway here is that A Mad Wicked Folly is a book you’re going to want to get your hands on as soon as you can. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s thought-provoking with an added bonus of teaching you a thing or two. While I thought I would like it, I wasn’t expecting to love it but Vicky wouldn’t take no for an answer. Get excited for this one, guys, it is most excellent.

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.
Meg Morley
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25 Responses to “Review: A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller”

  1. Kelsey
    Twitter:

    I loved this book! It was so good, and Vicky was awesome. 🙂 I’m glad you loved it too, I thought I wouldn’t like it at first but I was so wrong.

    • Meg Morley

      Same! I picked it up because I figured ‘hey, art school, neat!’ and was unprepared for the awesome. Glad you loved it!

  2. Kate Copeseeley

    I love this time period, so your review has definitely snagged my interest. I do not understand what is going on with that cover though. Not even a little.

    • Meg Morley

      Yeah, the fancy dress cover trend is getting old but don’t let that put you off, this one’s definitely worth reading.

  3. Angie F.

    I cannot wait for this! It’s actually my WoW pick for today! Vicky sounds like a wonderful character, and I love how her posing nude was just the first step in her trying to break down boundaries! 😀

    • Meg Morley

      The posing was such a great way to open, it sets a good tone for Vicky’s character. I hope you like it as much as I did!

    • Meg Morley

      The shiiiiiiip! Such a good ship but upon further consideration, I think Vicky was my favorite part. She’s so sarcastic and hilarious.

  4. Kelly
    Twitter:

    Thankfully the boss gifs caught my attention, because I would have, otherwise, completely dismissed this “girl in a pretty dress” book. I love that the protag is a sassy and stubborn lady, even in the early 20th century – definitely one to keep my eye out for!

    • Meg Morley

      Hahaha, gif win! When I was writing the review, every time I thought of some awesome, snappy thing Vicky said I’d hear Andy Samburg shouting LIKE A BOSS in my head.

  5. Nova
    Twitter:

    I was quite wary about reading this only because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t actually like Victorian/His Fic that much. It gives me a little more confidence that you like it though! Yay!

    I loved the gifs. Very cool! And the review gave me lotsa info 😀 <3333 Lovely review, Meg!

  6. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I already love Vicky! I believe this is the first review I read and I like the sound of it. It’s cool that she was brave enough to stand nude for art class, I don’t think I could. And it’s fun when the author secretly learns you stuff 😀

  7. Cynde Delaina

    I’d need to check with you here. Which is not something I normally do! I take pleasure in studying a post that may make individuals think. Also, thanks for permitting me to remark!

  8. Wendy Darling
    Twitter:

    Is this comment publishing? Trying again.

    Meg, you are killing me. My ARC somehow got lost in the mail and I’m crossing my fingers that another one arrives…but in the meantime I’m looking at your 4.5 stars with crazy excitement. 4.5 stars! Oooooo. I’ll have to compare notes with you later when I’ve had a chance to read/review.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Secret (Elemental #4): review discussionMy Profile

  9. Wendy Darling
    Twitter:

    Blah. Is this comment publishing? Trying again.

    Meg, you are killing me. My ARC somehow got lost in the mail and I’m crossing my fingers that another one arrives…but in the meantime I’m looking at your 4.5 stars with crazy excitement. 4.5 stars! Oooooo. I’ll have to compare notes with you later when I’ve had a chance to read/review.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Secret (Elemental #4): review discussionMy Profile

  10. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    But if it’s ACTUALLY fantabulous from all angles, then what’s that missing .5, hmmmm?

    There is no way I could pose nude. NO WAY. I knew a girl who did that in college though. I mean, respect for serious, but I could not put all my bits on display.

    Oh man, when she got sloshed on brandy. That was FANTASTIC. Also, it pretty much inspired her to join in crusading for the vote. HOLLA.

    “The love interest is a sweetie too, I don’t want to give away too much as he’s not immediately obvious (okay it’s pretty obvious if you’re paying attention but whatever, read it yourself, I’m not telling you).” <– haha, nice!

    So what didn't you like? :-p I gave it five, even though part of me wants to always give fluffy books .5, but I am trying to crush that elitist part with happy feels.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #53: UnteachableMy Profile

  11. Ellis

    With every review I read (you know, except for THAT ONE), I want this book that much more.

    I certainly couldn’t do that. I often search through my uni’s job database and there’s always an ad for art class modelling. I wish I could do it (because they also pay you really well for that here) but no. I have a problem with attention being drawn to me in general and there’s still a layer of clothing that protects me from some scrutiny in that scenario. Wah wah, this is besides the point.

    “A high point of particular note is when she gets sloshed on brandy and starts trolling her (ungodly obnoxious, hateful) soon-to-be father-in-law at the dinner table about his (backwards, infuriating) views of women.”

    Can this person please be real and also my friend? Pretty please? “Like, I’ll bake her cookies and learn how to provide for her and all that just because I want her in my life” pretty please.

    Pony gif is appropriate because this sounds like a unicorn book.

    I AM EXCITED, MEG. I AM SO VERY EXCITED. This sounds right up my alley. As in a “I need the internet to yell at Meg on Gchat” kind of way. Which is the best way. Naturally.
    Ellis recently posted…Review – SecretMy Profile

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