The blurb: “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 very much enjoyed this book. It was a solid story written in an engaging style. I also appreciated the historical aspect that let me feel like I was learning something.
Victoria was not my favorite protagonist. I related to her love for her craft and was sometimes inspired by her perseverance and dedication to it. However, I found myself yelling at her pretty often, mainly when her optimism crossed the line into delusion. She frequently overestimated how forgiving and generous her family and society would be. The problem took a new form when at times she turned out to be right—leading to a sense of magical author powers being over-utilized.
Victoria also drove me insane at times with her lack of thought for others, primarily in regards to a certain love interest. She is incredibly dishonest with him, and doesn’t even consider how thoroughly her lack of honesty messes with his life and his feelings.
So Victoria won’t be invited to my personal heroines club, but again, I admired her a lot for her devotion to art and to her practicality and strategizing about getting where she wanted to go with it. Because of that, I didn’t have trouble rooting for her. And it’s hard for a story set in an era of gowns and carriages not to entertain me. I also really enjoyed reading about the women’s suffrage movement in the setting of a narrative. A Mad, Wicked Folly wasn’t a showstopper, but it was certainly not a waste of time.
Soaring Eagle for inspirational-ness– I was especially inspired because I related Victoria’s artist journey to myself as a writer.