Well the page 99 test was created by Ford Maddox Ford as a way to test the quality of a book you may want to read. Apparently page 99 is the point in the book where the author should have hit their stride and hopefully we’re not so far in we hit spoilers
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.
“The front two reception rooms of the house were where relatives of the departed were taken to choose what sort of farewell they intended to give their ones. One room had an entire wall made up of squares of different coffin wood, plus examples of brass and silver nameplates, while the other, larger room (painted a deep and soothing red) was where they decided more delicate matters, such as type of mattress, pillow and interlining was wanted for the coffin interior. An alcove in this room served as a study and contained a substantial mahogany desk with various brochures from which the bereaved could choose funeral flowers, marble memorials, the type of procession and number of horses, what mutes and plumes and palls to use and other essential items. Behind these two reception areas were the various workrooms, a private parlour and a kitchen. A comforting fire burned in the red room summer and winter, and this perhaps calmed the mourners and the shock of finding out how much the funeral was going to cost.”
Okay, so let’s start with the synopsis: the synopsis tells a story of hardship in Victorian times. The reason I bought this was the blurb. The Victorian era is one of my favourite historical times and I love books from that time. The thing that really intrigued me was that some of the topics felt relevant to how things are today.
The cover: the cover is So beautiful, from the font to the girl’s hair, I adore it! It’s simplistic but so striking. There are a couple of different textures and I can see why I was intrigued enough to read what was inside the cover (I have a hardback). The fact that the background is grey is something else I want to point out, normally I love colours, they draw me in and make me excited, but the grey is perfect, it makes the stand out point the girl’s hair (have I mentioned I like it? I wish my hair was that pretty and I bet I’m not alone.)
The paragraph: The paragraph is a really stunning piece of description, the words conjuring a bleak vision of the effects of death on those left behind. I won’t lie as I was reading the paragraph and again as I typed it I was envisioning the scene perfectly in my head, the only thing missing was my narrator. Maybe that could be a positive though, there was no filter between me and the world. I was at the centre of the room, instead of floating above looking down at the event.
What do you guys think of the sound of Fallen Grace?
Let me know in the comments!