A Mad, Wicked Folly
Waller’s young adult historical romance novel takes us first to France in 1909, where 17-year-old Victoria Darling poses nude for her art class and invokes the wrath of her family as well as society. When she returns to London, her parents insist that she must restore her reputation in time for debutante activities, but Vicky’s priority is enrolling in the Royal College of Art. When her hopes for a scholarship to art school are dashed, Vicky agrees to marry Edmund, her parents’ choice to take over the family business, because she thinks he will support her passion for art. Accidental adventures with the Pankhurst family and their women’s suffrage efforts throw Vicky (literally) on top of Will, a police constable with dreams of his own.
For a romance novel with a love triangle, this book takes on a life outside of Vicky’s choice of husband. The plot involving women’s suffrage and Vicky’s art is vibrant and compelling, making the well-developed male characters seem secondary to the life of a young woman who only wants to make choices for herself. Readers will feel Vicky’s frustration over her lack of control, and relate to her horrors regarding boring but proper conversation topics among wealthy young ladies. Waller’s wonderfully descriptive writing makes readers feel a part of the setting and action, laughing and crying along with Vicky.