A Mad, Wicked Folly

A Mad, Wicked Folly

by Sharon Biggs Waller

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In Edwardian London, a girl dreams of being an artist, despite her family's disapproval.

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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101614419
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 01/23/2014
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 635,144
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Sharon Biggs Waller moved to England in 2000, where she worked as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. These days she is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a ten-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark. She is the author of three non-fiction books, as well as the YA novel A Mad, Wicked Folly.

Read an Excerpt

With Will next to me, the fog no longer seemed ominous; instead, it felt peaceful. The fog blotted out the surroundings and any passersby, making it feel as though we were the only people about.
“So you believe in votes for women?” I asked as we walked.
“I don’t see the point in denying half the population the right to vote.” He shook his head. “It’s daft. So yes, the suffragists have my sympathies. I can’t work out which side you’re on, though.”
“With the women, of course.”
“But you don’t fight with them?” He looked at me, his eyes questioning.
“I’m going to help them with the artwork. I’m not the fighting type.” I twirled my beret around my hand.
He grinned. “And an artist can’t fight?”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for A Mad, Wicked Folly

• "At equal turns humorous and heartbreaking. . . . A must-have first purchase."—School Library Journal, starred review
"Waller’s intriguingly sympathetic characters, effortless and effective blend of history and romance, passion for her subject, and swift-paced plot make her a new YA voice to watch."—Booklist, starred review

"An enjoyable historical romp."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] compelling coming-of-age tale that’s as good as any British period drama. . . . The Edwardian world here is so immersive and Vicky so likable that readers will want to put on the kettle on and settle in for a lovely read."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Nominated for the American Library Association's 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project List

Customer Reviews

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A Mad, Wicked Folly 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Mad, wicked, folly is absolutely outsanding. I felt for Victoria ( Vicky) at every part of the story. I love the way Sharron Walker wrote all of it. The suffragettes, the characters, escpesialy Will. I felt like I had entered 1909.
JulianaMae More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC through Miss Literati in exchange for a review. “Hello! Welcome,” I greet you, standing up from the couch and smoothing down my skirts. Our dresses are beautiful, but our corsets are a claustrophobic’s nightmare. I give you air kisses and offer to take your at-home card, which was your invitation to come and see me. “Please, let’s eat,” I say, gesturing to where I've laid out Victoria’s Favorite Pickelets that I've made from a recipe in the back of A MAD, WICKED FOLLY. I choose to put a combination of butter, honey and apricot preserves on mine and grab a steaming mug of sugar cookie tea that I only wish I made in a kettle. “I’m starved,” I tell you, as I nibble at my pickelet. They will undoubtedly sit not nearly finished next to our barely-touched cup of tea because there’s hardly enough room to breathe in our corsets. There is no room to add extra food and drinks to the mix. We make polite chitchat, and, finally, I think you’re ready to hear about the book. Victoria grew up in London in the very early years of the 1900s where social events just like this were practiced every day. They were strict and mandatory if you had any dignity at all. On the slightly glamorous side, they had people to dress them and do their hair. Balls were not at all uncommon; though when you hit the age to go to them it meant you’d soon be married to someone you possibly barely knew and certainly didn’t love. Marriages were to better the families involved and for nothing more. Women’s rights were non-existent. That meant no voting, no college, no career and virtually no say in anything. The job of a woman was to be a good wife and mother and that is all. Victoria didn't want to be just a wife and a mother. She wanted to be an artist and she wanted to go to college. Victoria secretly took an art class where she was the only girl. When their model didn't show up, one of her classmates pointed out that Victoria was the only one that had never posed before. Victoria felt the need to prove she was their equal and that it didn't matter that she was a girl. Word spread like fire when Victoria stripped her clothes in front of a group of men. Her parents sentenced her to stay in her house. Victoria’s parents were worried her reputation was ruined. They found a man for her to marry, but she refused. That is, until she learned the marriage could be of benefit to her. Victoria is stronger and braver than she thinks. She knows what she wants and she’ll stop at nothing to get it. Multiple times she braves the police, her parents, and anyone else who she thinks will get in her way. She gains the support of some unlikely people, including a powerful police constable. They benefit from each other in a business agreement, or so she tells both him and herself. If he wasn't more than just her business partner, though, why didn't she feel the same way when she was with her fiance? I absolutely loved this book — the dresses, the language, the culture, and the setting. I laughed in delight when Victoria wittily silenced her challengers, much to their surprise, and thoroughly enjoyed when Victoria became victorious and found a way to not only get the thing she wanted the most, but also more than she asked for and things she didn't know she wanted. A MAD, WICKED FOLLY made me thankful women like Victoria came before me and helped shape life into what it is today — a much more equal world for women. One where we can pursue the things we want and we don’t have to set
Andrea17 More than 1 year ago
A Mad, Wicked Folly is one of those books that make me angry. Not because they're bad or anything along those lines, but because they portray and take place in a time where women had no voice. It's hard for me to fathom a time when women were truly considered the weaker sense and had no "understanding" about certain things. Where they went to school to learn how to be a wife and mother. One of the characters even comments that if a man were to do what Violet is doing he would be admired, but because Violet has a vagina she is considered to just have bad behavior. Okay, he doesn't actually say "because she has a vagina," but I'm paraphrasing here. I like Violet, a lot. All she wants to do in the world is draw. She sneaks away from her reform school to draw with a bunch of boys, disobeys her parents demands, and applies to an art school all on her own and in secret. She is defying everything she has been taught to follow her dreams. How can you argue with a character like that? Lucy, an American that Violet meets outside one of the suffragistes events, I knew immediately that I was going to be fond of. She's the one who initially puts the thoughts of helping / becoming a suffragette into Violet's head and it's her words that appear to push Violet in the right direction (or wrong direction depending on your view point). And slowly but surely, becomes an excellent friend and confidant of Violet's. Then there's Will and Edmund. To those of you who detest love triangles, and I'll admit I've come across one or two in my time that were rather annoying, don't fret! Sharon handles this issue with dignity and grace. It is neither annoying nor obnoxious, nor is it cliche. Nor is it really a love triangle, but I can't go into those details without stating spoilers. Just know that the romance aspect of this novel is perfect.  I have a soft spot for historical novels and A Mad, Wicked Folly is not different. Sharon clearly did her research (she also includes some notes at the end about this time period) and I loved turning to Google to look up the fashion and the historical figures she discusses. Sharon's characters come alive in a real time period during a real struggle for women. One of things I love is that she shows characters (men and women) on both sides of the suffrage struggle, which allows us a full glimpse into early 1900s London. Filled with a sweet romance, women fighting for their rights, an exceptional cast of characters, and wonderful writing A Mad, Wicked Folly is definitely a novel that any one a fan of history and even those who aren't (yes, it's that good!) will enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story hit on all the sweet spots - historical fiction in the Edwardian era, the suffrage movement, and the pre-raphaelites. The artistic point of view was dead - on, and just enough action and romance to keep the pages turning. Loved it!
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
Wanting to read something in another time period and hearing so many rave reviews about this book, I picked it up for a rainy day read. And it was perfect. Plot: This story is in the 1900′s where women and beginning to fight for their rights in society. One thing about this plot is that it is filled with great diversity in what women went through back in the day. From social stigma to arranged marriages. This plot never felt boring. Love: I really like this area. Back in the day women got their social status and money from the man they marry. So naturally they had to marry up whether they liked the man or not. It really neat to explore the pressure to marry “up” and how society looked down on a man who did not have money. The comments that where made as well as the degrading names really brought this area to life for the reader. Ending: The ending is so good that I’m wondering if there will be a second book. I sure hope so. It ended with a cliff hanger that certainly makes me want more. If you enjoy historical with a coming of age story about a young women fighting for her place in society, then you must read this book! It jammed-packed with amazing women all changing the world one step at a time. I can’t wait to see what will happen next. A Mad,Wicked Folly is a sensational read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friend has the book
PCRachel More than 1 year ago
FULLY posted on Beauty and the Bookshelf! 4.5 Stars! Thinking about it, I can't find any complaints or issues with this book. While I may have peeked ahead a few times, it wasn't really because of the book. I just wanted to see when a certain character would be in the book! So even though I was slightly frustrated when a certain character wouldn't make an appearance for dozens of pages, I think that was about it. Something about this book was just GOOD. A large part of what made A Mad, Wicked Folly such a great novel was the writing. Waller wrote the story wonderfully, with a style and voice that matched the 1909 era. I mean, it wasn't Shakespeare and hath not doth this and all that, but it wasn't contemporary writing, and there were some words and phrases that were obviously from a different time period, for I didn't know what they meant. (Also not a complaint, just an ode to the writing style.) In fact, I don't know if this book would've been so successful if it wasn't written the way it was. And I will most definitely be reading the future works of Waller. Vicky was a likeable, strongheaded POV/MC who tried her hardest to succeed and fulfill her dreams. It was hard to be a woman during that time period (and for many, many years after) and do what you wanted to do. Class, level, and society were extremely important, and you didn't want to fall below the ranks of the high and mighty. But even with all that, Vicky continued to persevere and try to make her dreams come true, even her brother Freddy, but I wasn't too fond of her stuffy parents. I liked her friends, but I could not stand her fiance or his father. I did, however, fancy her muse-of-sorts, Will. I wanted more and more of him. He was just who needed Vicky needed in her life, and he was totally swoony and wonderful and we can please have a sequel with lots and lots of Will? Each character was their own character, if that makes sense, and most seemed like they had purpose to the story. A big part of this novel revolves around the rights of women. While this is a fictional novel, it has bits and pieces of non-fiction mixed into it, which was great. We see how women are treated of various classes, and by strangers, acquaintances, and family. Really, it's just ridiculous. Women couldn't do crap in 1909. Why, women shouldn't vote, because they'll get ideas, and they shouldn't have an opinion! It was horrid how women, who simply wanted a say in things and to be treated as equals, were treated. (Being force-fed through a tube really did happen, people.) But this book accomplished weaving history with a fictional story, and it was well done. (Also, boys, watch how you treat us women. Without us, you've got nothing. And you'll get nothing, too.) While I'm not sure if I loved A Mad, Wicked Folly, I do have lots of like for it. It was composed of great writing, true (and hard) history, and even some romance, which I always like. This folly-free novel (please tell me I used that word correctly) has so many aspects that come together to make a high-quality, good piece of YA literature. And while the ending wasn't my favorite (it was somewhat open-ended, at least for the romance-loving me, and I just wanted more), it was still good and worked for the book and the story. I'd suggest you read this book, no matter who you are or what genre you usually read, and to not do so would be a mad, wicked folly.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller Publisher: Viking Juvenile Publication Date: January 23, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): 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? What I Liked: I don't even know where to begin with this one! I requested it on a whim, honestly. I didn't really know what it was about, only that it was marked as "historical fiction" on Goodreads, there was romance (though it appeared to be a love triangle - yikes!), and the cover is pretty awesome. But this book ended up surprising me, in the best of ways! I love historical fiction, but I don't read nearly enough historical fiction set in the 1900s. This was a good one! So. Vicky is sent back to London, after getting caught posing nude for her art class. Quickly, her parents try to rectify her scandal. She is forced into an engagement with an actually not bad young man - a good-looking, rich, nice, young man. She is forced to go to another school, where she must learn to dance and curtsy and whatnot. Her parents don't want her drawing or sketching - they detest her art, and they refuse to let her go to an art college. That does not stop Vicky from applying to RCA (the art college), and in fact, she wants to get married to Edmund, because he is rich, and can pay for the college's tuition. But things don't go as planned. Vicky gets caught in a suffragette mob, and gets arrested by the handsome William Fletcher. Strangely enough, after the arrest, she and Fletcher develop an odd friendship, and begin seeing each other. Vicky draws for Fletcher's novelette (stories), and Fletcher poses for Vicky.  But the suffragette movement is HUGE in this book, and it does not just go away. While Vicky accidentally got arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, her "involvement" does not stop there. Eventually, she begins painting and drawing for the suffragettes. Women around her are suffragettes - people she would never have seen or thought to be. I really like Vicky, but I especially like her character development. In the beginning of the novel, she is rash and dramatic and silly. All she cares about is her art and going to art college. By the end of the novel, she realizes just how much those things mean to her, and she makes concessions for those things. She gives up things, important things, in order to have a clear view of the future. Vicky at the start of the novel wouldn't have thought about the future in the same way that Vicky at the end of the novel does. The romance in this book is interesting, to say the least. Vicky is forced into an engagement with Edmund, but there is nothing there. However, the entire book is spent with Vicky being engaged to Edmund. That's part of the plot (along with the suffragette movement). However, Vicky's heart truly belongs to one police constable - Will. I love the decisions that Vicky makes throughout the novel, involving Will. Some are very mature and grown-up, even if they are difficult. The suffragette movement is a poignant part of this novel, and I love how Waller depicts it. Keep in mind, it is the suffragette movement in England, NOT in the United States. Waller makes this plot important, but not overwhelmingly so. Vicky becomes braver as the novel goes on, but she does not become a martyr, or something that she is not (or never will be). Yes, Vicky makes crucial decisions that impact the movement in small ways, but the author does not make Vicky anything that she is not (nor will be). But I think Waller did a great job of portraying this HUGE historical event. I have to hand it to her - she did her research VERY well! And the extra information in the back of the book is awesome and much appreciated! I don't know what you all are thinking, about this book and its plot, but trust me when I say that the ending is very real, and it's... it's a good ending. Vicky really has to grow up, in the last part of this book, but the ending is definitely fitting of this growth. I liked it! I liked this book very much. What I Did Not Like: One thing that really stuck out to me was the slow beginning. Like, the first 100 pages or so are soooo slow. I contemplated not finishing this book (would be a FIRST for me, EVER), or pushing off, even though I had my review slated for today (the 22nd). I started reading this book on the 20th, and didn't get very far (maybe 40 pages?). I started again on the morning of the 21st, and I found that I could NOT get into the book. But, me being me, I don't just not finish books, so I pushed through the first part of the book. Things started to pick up, and I began to become interested in the story, so then I started worrying about finishing in time for the 22nd and writing the review, and started actually reading. But seriously, the beginning was slow. If you are reading this book, and are considering not finishing, keep going! It gets better!  Would I Recommend It: YES! Definitely recommend this to historical fiction fans. If you love historical fiction - especially historical fiction set in other countries, and historical fiction set in the early 1900s - then this is a book for you.  And even if you don't like historical fiction, or don't read much of it, I promise you that this is a good read! It's lengthy, but it's worth every page. Rating: 4 stars. I'm so glad I took a chance with this novel! Now that I've actually read it, I can't believe I ever considered NOT reading this book!