**I received an ARC copy of this book from Viking Juvenile in exchange of an honest review. Thank you Viking!
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 haven't read a ton of YA Historical Fiction but I can already tell you I am a huge fan, so when I saw A MAD, WICKED FOLLY was being released this year I immediately requested a copy from Penguin in hopes I would get one. I am so glad I was fortunate enough to get my hands on it! It's such a light book, as in not overly angst filled, but it is so touching and speaks to your heart. I adore this book and it is one I can definitely see myself reading over and over again.
Victoria (aka Vicky) is living in the Edwardian Era where women have no rights and are seen as mere entertainment and mindless. Vicky desires to be an artist, not just for leisure, but it is her dream to be displayed among the greats. After doing a shameful thing her family pulls her out of school in France and away from her secret art classes back home to be married and made into a "proper woman". Vicky has plans of her own to go to college for art and doesn't plan to let anything get in her way. She doesn't realize how far she will go or the things she will do to make her own way in life and have her own free will until meeting a suffragette, Lucy, and a Police Constable, Will.
I am completely in love with this era. I'm honestly in love with most eras where there are lady's maids, gorgeous dresses, and swoony gentlemen. Waller took me into the setting. She painted the world beautifully and I felt like I was there in the art classes when Vicky was drawing. When she observed the suffragettes and watched all the ways the women were treated I connected with her sadness. It all definitely made me realize I would not have fit in with this era well, being seen as a "mindless woman". (Or maybe I would of then since that was the normal, so maybe I'm just really grateful that the suffragettes existed and someone stood up for our rights then.) I saw all the beauty she saw when drawing her art and spending time with her muse, Will. I felt as if I was there the whole way through.
Vicky has such a wonderful voice. I loved her character and how tough she was. She started out in a world where in her class it was all but impossible for a woman to make any choices of her own. She was expected to wed and have babies and be nothing more than a wife and a mother. Vicky knew that that would not be enough and held onto her goal no matter what was thrown her way. At the beginning some choices Vicky made I wanted her to be stronger, try harder, but in the end I think she did the right things for her and her life and her character growth was amazing.
Sophie, Vicky's lady's maid, became a very good friend along the way and I really liked their relationship. I found Sophie to be a tremendous influence on Vicky and she helped her so much along the way. Vicky met Will while drawing and from that moment on I couldn't wait to see where things would go for them. Will was a charming gentleman who had a heart of gold and was sympathetic to the women and their pleas. He ended up helping Vicky out in so many ways and their relationship that unfolded was written beautifully. Edmund, Vicky's fiancé, is a coward. That is the only word I have for him and the things he does. He is a man and is able to make his own choices and decisions and yet he was a complete coward with his life. It was frustrating to see his actions when he had choices compared to these women who had none but fought the entire time. One more mentionable character was Lucy; she was easily one of the strongest women in the book. She made a great encourager and friend for Vicky and I wouldn't mind seeing a book about her.
Waller did an amazing job depicting this era and flawlessly writing Vicky's story. I enjoyed learning about the suffragettes’ world and the way it worked for them. At the end of the book I also tremendously enjoyed all the notes that were there to read. I was able to learn more about the suffragettes, styles, and the era in general. This book would work well in a history class in high school.
This is a book that is a must for my shelf. Anyone who has a love for historical fiction and feminism will devour this book just as I did. I also think that anyone who loves a beautifully written world and plot will adore this book.