Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly

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 FollyA Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Published by Viking Juvenile on January 23, 2014
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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five-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?

There’s a special place in my heart for the books that leave me with a huge, goofy grin on my face. Seriously, you should see me right now, because I look like a fool. And I am one hundred percent okay with that, because this book was so fluffy and feminist and wonderful.  A Mad, Wicked Folly exceeded all of my expectations, managing to be both hilarious, romantic and to make more serious points all at once.

Vicky’s parents sent her to France to attend a finishing school. You know, walking around with a book on her head and rubbish like that. What her parents did not expect was for her to take up with a local artist group, drawing nudes. The final straw comes the day she poses nude herself. At this point, you’re probably a bit shocked, because a YA heroine posing nude in the first chapter? What even is that? Awesome is what that is. See, the nude posing is all about how committed Vicky is to her art. All the guys in her class have posed nude, and she wants to be equal.

When I read the blurb, the heroine posing nude was intriguing but worrisome. Actually, that first chapter sets the tone for the whole book perfectly. Sometimes attention-grabbing openings like that really don’t fit in with the book as whole, but were kept because of what a good hook they make. That’s not the case here. In choosing to pose nude, Vicky’s setting a course for her future, in which she puts her dreams of an art career over the demands of high society. Though she was afraid of posing nude, she finds a strength and confidence in doing so. I love so much that, despite the inevitable fallout, never once does Vicky question her decision. She knows she acted precisely the way she needed to for herself.

As you might have guessed, Vicky’s a real spitfire. Her parents drag her back to London, determined to salvage her reputation by marrying her off quick as can be. At first, Vicky’s completely opposed, but then she figures out that Edmund, her intended, will be more likely to let her attend an art college than her recalcitrant, old-minded father. While being put through the rigamarole of her return to society and wedding planning, Vicky has to sneak around to get her portfolio ready for her application to RCA, the art college of her dreams.

Along the way, Vicky gets mixed up with the suffragist movement. Initially drawn by the urge to sketch the female protesters, she becomes more and more committed to the movement and convinced that women do deserve equal rights. Her vibrant personality and determination are invaluable. She really does seem like she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Can you tell that I love this girl? I also love that she’s not perfect. Vicky doesn’t always think through things realistically, tending more towards a logic not yet found in her time. She can be slow on the uptake and doesn’t excel at seeing things from other people’s points of view.

The focus on Vicky’s art and on the movement to obtain votes for women added depth to an otherwise flufftastic story. Don’t get me wrong, as I love fluff, but I did like the addition of real world issues to the romantic aspects and pretty dresses. This book has everything: strong women, humor, fashion, art, and a sexy male lead. All I’m saying is that I would not mind copping a feel, if you know what I mean. View Spoiler » Adding to a book I already loved, I am so glad that Waller left the story where she did, with a suitably happy ending, but one that doesn’t fall into a traditional romance HEA. View Spoiler »

What’s not to like about A Mad, Wicked Folly? I can’t think of a damn thing. Many squees and flails were had, and I’m still sporting my goofy grin.

Favorite Quote:

“I think my son will have to tie you to the table leg, young lady.”

I stared at my plate. Shut it, Vicky. Just shut it! my saner self screamed at me. But my impulsive side, fueled by my father’s rather expensive brandy, prevailed. I lifted my head and looked Edmund’s father in the eye. “Let him try it.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

room with a view kiss
This gif works, but I was thinking of this clip, which doesn’t exist in gif form. Warning: NSFW. The freedom and exuberance in nakedness is perfect, but the swooniness and the emotional ARC of A Room with a View is a good match for A Mad, Wicked Folly.

11 responses to “Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly”

  1. Dahlia Adler says:

    Gah I feel like every single thing I hear makes me more and more excited for this book. Woohoo for awesome 2014 debuts!!
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing MeMy Profile

  2. I’m so glad you liked this one, because although it has such a pretty pretty PRETTY cover, I still had my reservations about it being a complete success.

    Great review and I happen to love me some fluff too!
    Lisa (Fic Talk) recently posted…Comment on Cover Reveal: I See London by Chanel Cleeton by Chanel CleetonMy Profile

  3. Angie F. says:

    Yay! I am so glad that you loved this! I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on it. 😀
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: A Very Scandalous HolidayMy Profile

  4. Morgan says:

    Oh I’m SO glad you loved this! I pre-ordered it awhile ago and can’t wait to get my hands on it. I really like books that are fluffy but manage to have depth at the same time. I also feel like it’s a time period I haven’t read about very often, which adds to the novelty factor. Fantastic review and I so love the gif 😀

  5. Shelly says:

    This one seems EPIC! I’m not sure what else to say besides the fact that I want it in my hands right now and that I am cursing the ARC gods for giving me insane amounts of arc envy. Awesome review & that gif is just lovely 🙂

  6. I really love the sound of this one. And 5 stars? Must check this out.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing MeMy Profile

  7. Nori says:

    I need to read this like right now! What a great review. I was sold at the posing part, though I get why that might make some people hesitant…
    Nori recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (75)My Profile

  8. Wowsers! 5 stars. Adding this one to my list right now. Great review, Christina~
    Dana (Little Lovely Books) recently posted…Christmas Book GoodnessMy Profile

  9. Lynn K. says:

    Generic comment but yeah, this book sounds amazing! It flew under my radar because I didn’t quite like the cover…
    The premise is unique, I’m glad it fits the rest of story. 🙂

  10. So your review does make this sound pretty much perfect. I guess it sounds a little more fluffy than I thought it would be, but there’s nothing wrong with mixing some fluff into a story as long as there’s also depth. The subject matters addressed here: art, the suffragette movement, an unconventional heroine living in a historical time period – they all sound fantastic. This is definitely a 2014 debut I’m excited to read!
    Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books recently posted…Review: Burial Rites by Hannah KentMy Profile

  11. My ability to be coherent and make slightly meaningful comments has been extinguished by how awesome this book apparently is. SO MUCH NEED. THE FEMINISM AND THE ART AND ASDGHJKL. I will acquire it shortly. It will be my gift to myself for my dear mother’s birthday since this comes out the same day.

    *makes grabby hands while whispering SOOOON to myself*

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