sunshine and stardust
Velvet by Mary Hooper was a delightful book to read. It was such an interesting and captivating story about a sixteen year old orphan girl. It was obvious that Mary Hooper did her research because the writing, dialogue and the Victorian/Edwardian world she created was highly authentic. I was immediately immersed in Velvet’s tough life and felt very sympathetic toward her. Velvet works in a steam laundry which is more than exhausting. When her impressive work is noticed by one of the clients, the impressive clairvoyant Madame Savoya, Velvet can’t believe her good luck. But is all as it seems?
Velvet loves Madame Savoya’s beautiful home and the work she is required to do which is a far cry from the arduous work she did at the laundry. She even develops a soft spot for George; Madame Savoya’s gorgeous assistant. Velvet not only loves how kind and generous Madame Savoya is to her, but also to her many clients who want to talk to their loved ones on the Other Side. Madame Savoya comforts her bereaved clients through enlightening them as to what their deceased relatives desire them to do to please them, be it through generous donations to charities (handled by Madame Savoya of course) or selling off all their jewellery (through Madame Savoya again).
Velvet was a fantastic book. I was immediately caught up in the mystery surrounding Madame Savoya. Velvet is very loving and trusting of Madame Savoya. When a person is kind to you, it is very hard to think badly about them and so when others tell her that Madame Savoya is a fraud, Velvet is quick to defend her benefactor. I really enjoyed watching Velvet’s growth throughout the book. Even though she had been through many upheavals in her life, Velvet was an optimistic character.
Hooper’s storytelling is fluid, addictive and easy to visualise. I loved the magic, spiritualism and intrigue. It was refreshing to read a story about mediums, particularly at the turn of the 20th century when contacting the Other Side was very popular. Velvet finds herself helping Madame Savoya in little ways like conversing with clients and relating conversations to Madame Savoya. What remains a strong image to me was Velvet’s visit to a baby farm. This was such a shocking and traumatic scene which I will not forget.
My only criticism is that I felt Velvet was quite slow in realising things that seemed obvious to me. However, this did not take away from my enjoyment of the book. The climax was gripping and all the ends were tied up very nicely. I can’t wait to read more books from Mary Hooper.
Fab review! Thanks Kulsuma