That may sound a contradictory title for this blog entry but one which will have plenty of meaning for fans of Mary Hooper. Mary's latest novel, Fallen Grace, was published by Bloomsbury last week and I was lucky enough to join Mary, her Bloomsbury publishers, friends, family, librarians and reviewers at the launch event.
In the glorious Bloomsbury boardroom we toasted Mary's latest novel, wished her every success and were treated to a short two minute trailer made by her son in law in exchange for babysitting duties! Introduced by her editor, Emma, as a lady who has gone full circle from teenage pregnancy to bridesmaids and now Victorian mourning Mary then explained for those who had not yet had the opportunity to read the book that she was appropriately dressed in three stages of mourning garb and proceeded to read an excerpt from her novel choosing the moment when Grace discovers some of the awful truths about her new employers.
I was lucky enough to chat with Mary before the launch and she revealed
that she loved writing this story and cannot see herself moving away from historical fiction now that she has found it for it is such a rich source of material and inspiration. The story, one of poverty and richness, bereavement, friendship and love is moving, compelling and harsh. It defies the reader to not develop strong feelings towards its characters and at the same time requires them to read aghast at the conditions even children were forced to live it. Yet it is uplifting too and when Emma regaled me with the story of the cherub in the film who was taken to the cemetery for the filming, forgotten and retrieved the following day amid some curious looks, the evening took on a lighter note!
If you have not yet found Mary Hooper then this novel is a wonderful place to begin. A story perfect for teens and adults alike this it offers a compelling and fascinating insight into Victorian life that many will have never seen before and the launch event was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate fantastic writing and toast the continued success of a talented author.
Thank you Bloomsbury and most of all thank you Mary!