A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller Audio by Katharine McEwan
Published by Viking Children’s 1/23/2014 Published by Listening Library
Vicky attends a “Finishing School” in France with only the art classes she sneaks off to keeping her sane. Unfortunately, someone discovers her extracurricular activities the day she poses undraped – in the nude. Her punishment: return to England, no more art classes, and an engagement to a wealthy gentleman to rehabilitate her reputation. She arrives home in the midst of the England’s Suffrage Movement which becomes a catalyst for life altering events. One afternoon as she slips away from home to draw people at the protest, she encounters a police constable, PC Fletcher, and a suffragette, Lucy. Both of them as well as her lady’s maid, Sophie Cumberbunch (who has been charged with Vicky’s refinement), introduce her to the movement, the Pankhursts and then encourage her to examine her own beliefs and how she lives her life.
Sharon Biggs Waller’s first YA novel is an exquisite look into 1908 England and the Suffrage movement as well as into the heart and mind of Vicky. Ms Waller’s compelling prose wraps us up in the beauty of the art Vicky sees and the power and beauty of the undraped figure. We are drawn into every one of Vicky’s emotions: her hopes, her despair, her passion, and her hatred (of corsets). And we are moved as Vicky opens her mind to a different world, a world beyond her family’s expectations, a world where women vote. With Vicky, Ms Waller creates a fascinating and powerful character whose growth finally gives her the ability to pursue her own dreams, her own desires. After all, isn’t that we all hope for?
In addition, Ms Waller provides extensive historical back matter which includes information about Edwardian life & clothing, Tuppenny Novelettes, the Suffrage Movement, the Pankhursts, hunger strikes & force feedings, and various artists that are mentioned. A thorough bibliography links readers to more information on England and the Suffrage Movement. BTW – if the name Pankhurst rings a bell you might want to thank the movie Mary Poppins for Mrs. Banks sings about Mrs. Pankhurst being “clapped in irons again!”
The Audio Book is just as compelling if not more so than the book for the English accents put us smack dap in the heart of 1908 England. I really know it’s good when my teen daughter tells me to turn it on rather than turn it off! Thank you Katharine McEwan!
A Mad Wicked Folly is a wonderful historical fiction novel that will not only engage students, but get them talking as well.