Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, so I was prepared to like Fallen Grace from the word go. And I did.
Grace is a very likeable character and you want her to do well. The fact that the author lays down very obvious signs along the way so that you know she will eventually make good, only detracts a little from the enjoyment of the overall story.
Grace and her special needs sister are orphaned in Victorian London. They are left destitute and have to find a way to fend for themselves. They sell herbs at the markets, they pawn their few possessions, but when Grace finds herself pregnant, they fall on even tougher times.
Grace ends up working for a family with a funeral business with all kinds of underhanded tricks going on behind the scenes.There is a newspaper clipping about a missing heiress and there is a love interest.
Fallen Grace is well-written and talks about an industry in Victorian London that I knew very little about. There are no sex scenes and the events surrounding the pregnancy are dealt with vaguely so that younger teens could safely read this.
Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant’s body in a rich lady’s coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper’s grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace’s life. But Grace doesn’t know that yet.
For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune.
A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.