The Disgrace of Kitty Grey
Bloomsbury 2013 $20.99pb 282 pages
ISBN 978 1 4088 2761 1
Themes: Country life UK 1800s/ Historical Fiction/ Love Stories/ Newgate Prison
Kitty Grey lives and works as a dairymaid in a ‘great house’ in the fresh air of the English countryside around the beginning of the 19thcentury. She has a sweetheart, Will, and life seems full of promise. Then, Will disappears (possibly to London) and when one of the daughters of the house asks her to journey there to pick up a copy of the newly published Pride and Prejudice, Kitty accepts willingly. Through a really believable chain of circumstances Kitty finds herself in the squalor and mess of the seamy side of London life with a young child (no, not hers) to care for, does a stint in Newgate Prison and ends on a boat bound for Botany Bay. The book is jacketed in a sweetly pretty image, which is a pity, as it will put off nearly every male reader unless, as the writer suggests, the book is wrapped in brown paper. Some of them could enjoy the story. The horror of the social life of the times is vividly shown and the total lack of any sort of support for a vulnerable young woman like Kitty. There is a certain sameness about Mary Hooper’s stories but therein lies their charm and makes her devoted readers (of which I am certainly one) return to her books with pleasure and read any new titles with delight.
For information about Mary Hooper (who is surprisingly accessible via email and Facebook) go to:
Mary Hooper is presently working on a new book about a volunteer nurse working in England and France during the First World War – probably to be called Poppy.
Year 8 up/ Age 12 up
Please note that from now on I will use the more useful heading of Young Adult for books of interest to readers around 12-15 years and not the slightly confusing Mature Readers. I will try and change all the previous labels when I get a moment.