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At The Sign of The Sugared Plum

“To tell the turth , I was rather glad to get away from Farmer Price and his rickety old cart. He made me uneasy with his hog’s reath and his red, sweaty face and the way he’d suddenly bellow our laughing at nothing at all. I was uneasy, too, about something he’d said when I’d told him I was going to London to join my sister Sarah in her shop.
‘You be going to live in the city, Hannah?’ he’d asked, pushing his battered hat up over his forehead. ‘Wouldnt think you’d want to go there.'”

When Hannah gets the message from her sister that she is needed to help in her sisters sweetmeats shop in London she is overjoyed. However she is not received well when she turns up with her sister exclaiming that she was not meant to come at all. Sarah sent a second letter telling Hannah not to come as cases of the plague had been reported in the City and Hannah was safer at home. With the plague getting worse by the days Hannah has no choice but to stay and help her sister, but will the plague get worse, will it come nearer, and will the girls be OK when it does?

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There’s something about Mary Hooper’s writing that grabs a hold of you and whisks you off to wherever the protagonist is. From the minute I started reading At the Sign of the Sugared Plum I was inside Hannah mind, I was on the cart, I was in front of the pub and I was working my way through the small alleys and crowds of people to find Sarah’s shop, and I loved every minute of it.

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum was another hit for me. I love how much I learn from Mary Hoopers books, I new some things about the plague, the strange costumes the doctors wore, the plague pits and the houses being locked up but I never knew the true horrors of the plague. To be honest if you have a weak stomach you may struggle with this book, its horrific in some places and you really get a feel for what life in London at this time is like.

The characters really meant a lot to me in this book, with it being in first person narrative from Hannah’s point of view you feel everything she does and shes a loving, kind girl so its hard not to like the wonderful characters. Sarah is an amazing older sister who’s supportive but also who needs a bit of looking after herself, she was a very motherly person and I really loved the relationship between the two girls. Doctor De Sliva and Tom were brilliant characters and the budding romance between Hannah and Tom was so polite and old fashioned that I found it so sweet! I was gunning for Tom and was ready for the book to be thrown across the room if anything happened to him! Abby was a rock for Hannah and she was very easily likeable. I enjoyed the scenes with her in and I would have liked her to be more of a main character but the part was done well.

Mary Hooper’s writing is just so elegant yet free flowing that its really isnt hard to read. I love how simple yet beautiful she makes everything and how much emotion is put into the writing. The only bad thing I found with At the Sign of the Sugared Plum was the length, it was short, only 169 pages, and I felt it was a little rushed towards the end. It also left me with a lot of questions but I guess that’s OK as I have the Fever and the Flame edition which is an omnibus of this and its sequel.

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum was published in 2003 by Bloomsbury Children’s books. It is the first in the Sign of the Sugared Plum series. My copy was gifted to me from the publisher by way of the 2006 omnibus The Fever and the Flame.

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