Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Why I chose this book: It seemed like everyone who is anyone was reading this book and raving about it. The cover was gorgeous, which made me pick it up off the bookshelf immediately. Here’s the catch, it was historical fiction. If you know anything about me you will know that I hattttte historical fiction. It is a genre that I constantly struggle with reading, and try to avoid if possible. Since Amanda was giving the contemporary/ chick lit world a shot (something she never reads), I figured I should do the same. I picked the perfect book to start with, as it beckoned to my feminist soul. 

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publish Date: January 23, 2014 
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

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? (Goodreads)

4 Things You Need to Know:

1. I never set out to pose nude. I didn’t, honestly. When a novel begins with a line like this, I know it is going to be a good book. Waller mixes historical prose with a beautiful voice that tells a story of women’s votes in Edwardian England. While I am all for the women’s votes, I never knew much about the background of the suffragettes. I feel like this is something far more people need to be aware of. Waller doesn’t let a single detail go unnoticed as she covers even the darkest parts of the movement. As I read my heart was moved for Vicky and her suffragette companions, and ever grateful for the sacrifices they made.  

2. Damn good storytelling. Oh sweet Vicky. You are sassy, fiery, and a butterfly kept in a glass jar. I totally felt for this character as she began as a ignorant and spoiled child. Throughout the story Vicky turns into this beautiful and strong woman who is able to stand up to her family and reach her goals. I found myself rooting for her every step of the way. 

3. Sacrifices in the name of art. Initially Vicky sacrifices her virtue, family, and potential future for the sake of being an artist. Vicky sees this as her world as she struggles to be brave and fight for her dreams. But as she spends time with the suffragettes Vicky begins to see that there are far greater sacrifices one can make. Seeing the women protest and risk their lives so others may be free allows Vicky to gain a worldview that precious and timeless.

4. Music to the ears. I “read” this book in audiobook format and let me tell you, it was fantastic! This is a great book for anyone who is wanting to get into the format, as it is a great vocal artist and excellent storytelling. 

Final Thoughts: This definitely made my favorites shelf on Goodreads. For a girl who is hesitant to pick up a historical fiction novel, I definitely made the right choice.


  1. This one got really slow for me once she left Paris. Her family was very condescending. And, I dunno. I wanted to like this one, but didn't.

  2. I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, either. I mean, I don't actually hate it, but I rarely seek it out just for fun... unless it's about a topic that interests me. One of my favourites is The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller. It's about the Romanov royals.

  3. I won this book and I've kind of put off reading it because it's kind of big. BUT IT SOUNDS GREAT. I love a good historical fiction and I'm also really interested in feminist things. (I'm sooo tired of sexist books.) I'm loving that first sentence. ;)

  4. I loved this book SO MUCH. (I had the opposite problem as you. I was worried about not liking it because I read so much historical fiction.) I think watching Vicky's transformation was my favorite part, and I loved how the suffragettes helped her with that.


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