Bookish Twins

A Mad, Wicked Folly

A Mad, Wicked Folly

A Mad, Wicked Folly

by Sharon Biggs Waller

Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Published: January 23rd, 2014
by Penguin




Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909,Β 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 artistβ€”a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky makes a fatal mistake in 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 museβ€”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?


Did you want to punch Vicky’s parents? What did you think of Vicky’s parents? Do you think they realistically portrayed the likes of parents during that time period?

Cait: Pfft, I’m not a violent person, please. Although, if her parents had tripped and landed on their faces…it would’ve served them right. I actually think they were the “norm” for the wealthy people of that time. Snobbish. Stubborn. All about class and society and blah blah. Can you imagine wearing a corset? I couldn’t. I actually like to consume food, not just smell it.

Hmm…yes, I agree. Speaking of which, did you like the English setting?

Cait: I LOVED IT! I have a huge obsession with Europe, mostly Paris and London. I thought the description was done really well too. It reminded me of Mary Poppins, basically, which I know you are unfamiliar with and that’s a huge hole in your childhood, Zoe. You need to fix that.

Well…thanks to you, I watched the Suffragette song on your blog, so i guess that qualifies?…

From what you know, what did you think about the way history was portrayed in this book as far as women’s rights are concerned?

Cait: I’m no history buff, but it felt very accurate from what I’ve read/watched. (Also: author’s note rocked. Lots of delicious historical details back there.) I was actually surprised of the brutality of it. I was under the impression that the suffragettes were mainly ignored and viewed as petty children, basically. According to A MAD, WICKED FOLLY, it was pretty brutal, right? They were often manhandled as they were put in prison, and anyone watching could be arrested. I also didn’t know about the hunger strikes from the suffragettes in prison. Let’s just all agree know that I would make a hopeless suffragette. description

I’m confused as to whether this is a discussion about the book or Mary Poppins…. so, to stay on track, what did you think about Vicky and her attitude / personality? Were there times when you were annoyed with her?

Cait: I had a lot of trouble connecting with her for the first 100-pages. I admired her passion for art, but she really was a snob. She also seemed rather clueless about her own society. Come on now, Vicky! Stripping off in front of a room of men in an art class you’re not even supposed to be at?? How did she think that wouldn’t have repercussions? Her naivety throughout the whole book made me twitchy. But, like I said: A+ on the passion.

I had a hard time connecting to her at first as well. Here’s the question of the day… Will versus Edmund…who wins and why?

Cait: To be honest, I shipped Vicky with Edmund (the rich aristocrat) for ages. I liked Will (the poor constable) fine, but I could see him and Vicky clashing a lot if they got together. But Edmund made a few crummy decisions and Will…weeeell, he’s adorable. I got converted to Williamism.

“Converted to Willamism?” Oh god… Anyway, Vicky’s passion in this story is art. What is your passion?

Cait: Writing! I actually really fell in love with Will because he’s also a writer and I admired his intentions to get his novelettes published. I’m definitely not as passionate as Vicky though…throwing her clothes to be a nude model? Liiiittle extreme. description

A little extreme…I agree! (And that’s why you ship Will? I should have guessed!) What did you think about the moral of the story? Did it ring true to everything the story discussed?

Cait: Gosh, you ask the difficult questions…I think some of the huge messages of the story were: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS. BE PASSIONATE. DO WHAT YOU LOVE, NOT WHAT’S DEEMED “RIGHT” IN SOCIETY’S EYES. All admirable message. description

If you were to rewrite the story, what would you do differently and why? (EXCLUDING ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE ENDING…)

Cait: Har, har, I didn’t mind the ending, okay?! It was fine. It was…sweet, kind of. I’m a happy camper. I don’t think I’d touch this story. I loved it as is. My only negative was Vicky’s border-line irritating naivety and how the story sometimes dragged. For instance: Vicky would lose her sketchbook, go to a place to get it, it’s not there, go to a different place, find it…aaand, then have someone take it. All the back and forthing didn’t seem to get anywhere. Mildly frustrating for me, who is a speed-reader. The plot twists were also a wee bit predictable.

Would you have liked to see this set in America during the same time period?

Cait: Not really. I’d love to have seen it set in Australia in that time period though… πŸ˜‰

Cait…if it were your choice, everything would be set in Australia….anyhow, Why do you think we both enjoyed it less in the beginning, and more as we got on?

Cait: I wonder if it’s because the style got some getting used to? It seemed a bit stiff at the beginning. I’m all for modernisms and slang, so it took me a while to get used to the toffy 1900s English speech. Also, Vicky matured as the book went on. Huge plus. I started the book thinking it’d be a 3 (and being worried that I wouldn’t like it!) but by the end it was a confident 4-stars.


36 thoughts on “A Mad, Wicked Folly

  1. Hey! I totally agree with your insta-love for this book! Vicky really did mature and become a better character by the end of this book. I’m so glad that you enjoyed this!

    Would you mind answering my discussion question on my blog? πŸ™‚

    1. She definitely did! I agree with Cait…it was great seeing her mature and learn for the better. πŸ™‚

      Thank you!

      And will do! πŸ™‚

  2. This was a lot of fun. The first question made me snicker. I have been curious about this one and I like that it discusses suffrage. I think I might have to read this but I am not excited about the parents. Brilly post, ladies.

    1. THE PARENTS ARE FRUSTRATING. Although, like I said, they’re probably pretty average for that day and age. *grinds teeth slightly* The first question mad me snicker too. πŸ˜‰ Thanks a looooot for that one, Zoe. XD

    2. It’s always great to see parents featured in YA books – even if they aren’t the most likeable, because typically most parents are MIA in YA, but thankfully, not here! πŸ˜€

      Hey! Don’t blame me! Cait’s usually the one making people snicker! πŸ˜‰

  3. I love me some European settings! I’m from Europe myself so it’s always so fun to see the history and culture, of places located here, being described on the pages of a fiction book πŸ™‚ MARY POPPINS, ZOE. READ IT. PREACH IT. LOVE IT!!! (Have you at least seen the movie? Julie Andrews is absolutely wonderful :)) Ah, I hate how women were treated once and still are in so many countries. This is one of the things that really, really sucks in this wonderful world we live in πŸ™ A+ on the passion πŸ˜€ Ha, Cait! Indeed. WOOOOW! You switched teams, Cait? :O How is that possible? I never switch teams. That’s unheard of πŸ˜€ You girls! I loved this interview *goes to hop by Cait’s blog* Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

    1. I know! YEAH for European settings, right? <3
      (Of course I've seen the movie Siiri! I'm a huge Julie Andrews fan! πŸ˜‰ I saw it a long time ago though, so it's not exactly fresh in my mind at the moment.)
      I so agree! We're so lucky that we had those brave women to fight for our freedom; but it's a shame not everyone in the world has that same luxury. πŸ™
      Thank you for always leaving such wonderful comments Siiri! <3 You rock! <3 Glad you enjoyed!

    2. I CAN’T BELIEVE ZOE DIDN’T KNOW THE SUFFRAGETTE SONG. But don’t worry, Sirri. I have since educated her. (I’m awfully nice.) And I switch teams because I’m wild and free. *tosses glorious mane*

  4. Cait! Fancy meeting you here! You come here often? πŸ˜‰
    Wait Zoe has never seen Mary Poppins? Or read it? ZOE! DUDE. FIX THAT.
    Uhm . . . why was Vicky stripping? Awkward. Naive. Weird. Awkward. Awkward. Awkward.

    1. She hops over every once in a while, doesn’t she? πŸ˜‰
      MARY POPPINS IS A BOOK TOO? HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT?!?! I’ve seen the movie, but that was forever ago…so it’s not exactly fresh in my mind! All I remember from it is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and A Spoon Full of Sugar…and Julie Andrews. Oh well!
      Umm…well…*coughs* she stripped because of art class and because she thought if she posed nude in art class that it would make everyone think she was a “dedicated artist” or whatnot. (Don’t ask…)

    2. OH…so that’s why you’re staying, Cait? Nothing to do with friendship or book discussions or what not? All for world domination? *cries* I thought we were friends! πŸ˜‰

  5. One of my pet peeves is YA authors that throw parental figures under the bus; it’s just WAY overdone IMO. Anyway, that point aside, other than the predictability of the plot line, this book sounds like it has a lot going for it. Great review!

    1. I so agree! πŸ˜€ It seems parents are either dead, workaholics, or just plain old MIA in most YA. It definitely does have a lot going for it! πŸ˜€

  6. This one does sound good but I still don’t feel super eager to pick it up! I am getting more tempted the more reviews I read. The parents will really bug me, but I know they are probably pretty accurate for parents of that time. So, though I can understand why they are like that, I’d still want to strangle them. I find the suffragette aspect fascinating, I think I’d enjoy seeing how that’s handled in this. The hunger strikes were brutal, but I found the force feeding to be worse – they’d strap them down and feed them through a tube, usually nostril or stomach. And Emily Davison!!! *sigh* Damn, now I REALLY want to read this to see how it’s handled.

    1. I totally hear you!
      It was definitely handled pretty uniquely here. They didn’t hold back on the gritty details – especially on the hunger strikes and whatnot; but from what I know it was pretty close to historically accurate! πŸ˜€

  7. With each passing review i’m getting more and more interested in picking this one up but i just havent yet. I domt know what it is but something is just stopping me :/ i have a feeling i wont be able to connectw ith the parents in this one :/ oh well

    1. Both Cait and I found it hard to connect to the parents; but in the end, we both agreed they were pretty good representations of parents during that time period.

  8. I’m so glad you also enjoyed this one Cait c: I found it to be quite a great historical read, it definitely took me back to the time period. I found everything regarding the suffragettes to be insanely interesting. Vicky’s parents drove me up the wall, but I presume they were very accurate to the time period.

    I also really felt the injustice that was given to them and omg got so mad at the treatment that was handed to them. They were truly such brave women, I know I wouldn’t be able to handle those hunger strikes at all.

    I never really considered Vicky’s naivety but damn o.O You’d think that the girl would have some better social awareness and would understand that posing nude in front of men wouldn’t have any impacts.

    Cait, I’m going to tell you something that will forever change your viewpoint on me[; ………….I’ve never seen Mary Poppins. Hahaha.

    Lovely review Cait! (:

    1. Gah, Vicky’s parents were just…*tears a paper* But I especially felt sorry for the mother, because she COULD’VE been artistic and special, but she was too scared.

      It was just the entire thing of Vicky thinking “aww, posing nude won’t hurt anything! I’m an artist!” that got me, because DUH. And then she did it again…so heh.


  9. I have been keeping an eye on this one! I just love any book that’s set overseas – it’s how I travel. Vicariously >.< It sounds like it has a few things that would irritate me – I have a pet peeve with pointless plot detours like what seems to be happening with the sketchbook thing. But it sounds like an overall pretty great read!

    1. Haha! Books with unique settings are the best, right? πŸ˜€ I have a feeling you’d like this overall Giselle!

  10. Hehehe this review swap was such a cool idea. I’ve seen this book around, but thought it was part of a series. I really like the sound of it and will definitely add it to my TBR. I love how Cait always knows how to choose the perfect gifs. πŸ™‚

    1. Cait is EPIC at gif choosing. Pity you can’t make a career out of it because hellooooo, I would be famous. *Ahem* Oh, and yes, the book was also good. I’m pretty extra sure A Mad, Wicked Folly is a standalone. x)

  11. Pretty sure you two are officially bonkers. Loving the interview style reviews, I demand to see more them, but less obscure books (actually, if you could just stick to the ones I’ve read, even better). It’s funny how most dystopians borrow the same type of oppression in that era against women, and morph it into wider sections of the community. It’s pretty much only the era and setting that differs. Awesome review, love the sass.

  12. Ooh, this is such a cool way of reviewing, Zoe and Cait! I should try this out someday, hehe. πŸ˜‰

    It’s strange that I haven’t been seeing that many reviews around for this, even though it received quite a bit of hype, but I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Cait. I love settings in Europe as well, and thankfully the author didn’t butcher the atmosphere or whatever. It takes a lot of skill to recreate a time period!

    Will vs. Edmund? Oh no, is there a love triangle here? It doesn’t sound too bad though, so I guess that’s a plus…

    And don’t worry, Zoe, I will be your fellow partner in violence against horrible parents. ;D We’ll give them aaaaalll the punches they deserve. *evil laugh* Anyways, great review, you two! Still not sure if I’ll check this out because it doesn’t really sound like my kind of book, but who knows.

  13. This book is at the top of my wishlist. Sometimes you just have to a book . . . well, sometimes I just have to have a book, and this books screams, “Pick me, PICK ME!” and so I am forced to oblige. I’m pretty sure Vicky’s early naivety will bug me a bit too, but if it’s even remotely in character (and it sounds like it is), I’m sure I’ll be fine. Fantastic review/back-and-forth/interview thingy! LOL πŸ˜‰

  14. I had trouble getting into Vicky’s character at first, too! So glad I was able to love her and ship her with Will by the end. ;D I love how you guys reviewed this together–so cute! πŸ˜€ I’d love to see more collaborations between you two awesome ladies!

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