Review: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey
Author: Mary Hooper
Genre: YA Historical
Summary (from Goodreads)
Kitty is living a happy, carefree life as a dairymaid in the countryside. The grand family she is employed by looks after her well, and she loves her trade, caring for the gentle cows and working in the cool, calm dairy. And then, of course, there is Will, the river man who she thinks is very fond of her, and indeed she is of him. Surely he will ask her to marry him soon? Then one day disaster strikes: Will disappears. Kitty is first worried and then furious. She fears that Will has only been leading her on all this time, and has now gone to London to make his fortune, forgetting about her completely. So when Kitty is asked to go to London to pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice, the latest novel by the very fashionable Jane Austen, Kitty leaps at the chance to track down Will. But Kitty has no idea how vast London is, and how careful she must be. It is barely a moment before eagle-eyed pickpockets have spotted the country-born-and-bred Kitty and relieved her of her money and belongings. Dauntingly fast, she has lost her only means of returning home and must face the terrifying prospect of stealing in order to survive – and of being named a thief …
I love Mary Hooper’s work. This is about the fourth of her books that I’ve read, and I’ve loved every one. They are so romantic, interesting, but above all easy that they make utterly perfect reading for a warm summer’s afternoon.
Hooper’s primary talent is taking a small facet of historical times and bringing it beautifully to life – simple story lines a vehicle to portray some of the fascinating practises of times bygone. In The Disgrace of Kitty Grey it’s the prisons of London and how men and women who stole to feed their families faced the terrifying prospect of transportation to Australia. As Kitty is helplessly thrown from one bad situation to another, the sad reality of life for many of London’s poor is illustrated.
The storyline doesn’t offer much in the way of challenge, and there’s always an overriding sense that everything will work out alright for everyone in the end. I did think there was something of an imbalance in the structure – with a lot of time spent in Kitty’s home before anything perilous happens, then by the 80% on my Kindle edition I was wondering if there was enough room left to resolve all the plot points. There was. Just. But the ending did leave me wanting a little more.
Overall, though, this was thoroughly enjoyable. As I said, Hooper’s books are just easy going, light reads, and sometimes that’s just what you need.