“I am Alice Angel. I am sixteen years old. I am not mad. But I am a bad person.
I have done some terrible things lately. I want to be forgiven.
I want to be a good person, the person they all expect me to be.
I have seen you and I heard you talk. I think you understand.
Can you help me?
You are my only chance to make things right.”
Alice Angel spends her days hiding from the torment her mother inflicts upon her. She doesn’t know why but she has always been hated. Her mother loves her brother and can even find softness for her father, but Alice, Alice she has always hated. Alice longs for an escape, but when she is strapped to the bed all night and kept confined to her room all day how does she expect to do so. Alice doesn’t know if she can handle her mother for much longer and with her mother calling upon the local Doctor claiming Alice is mad, she is even more worried that normal. Then one day Alice hears the speakings of Henry Price – or The Beloved to his followers – and the life he promises his followers. Free from Victorian conformity and cruelty the world at the Abode of Love sounds like bliss, and the Beloved sounds like her saviour.
For my second #readUKYA book I knew I would have to chose something to grab me. Its not often I read two books in one day and I knew that to do it I would have to love the second. Thankfully I picked up The Beloved, this was because I’d loved both of Alison Rattle’s previous books, and I was not disappointed.
Once again we get an incredible narrative from a girl at some point in history. This time its 1848 and I loved every second. I don’t know much about this period other than what I’ve read in books and most of them have been set in London so I was very happy to see a different – and very rural – setting. The author’s notes in the back of the book tells me that Henry Prince and his Abode of Love was actually a real thing at this point in Somerset’s history and I love that Rattle has managed to make such a brilliant story from that bit of actual history.
There is a lot to talk about with The Beloved – the fact that the mother is a complete nut job herself and the fact that it was that easy to convince doctors of a woman suffering from ‘hysteria’ at that time in history is the first thing that comes to mind. I know that the whole ‘hysteria’ thing was an actual thing in Victorian times and women were often accused of going mad because of their periods – which is just mad itself! I loved that that was touched upon in this book but wasn’t the whole point of the story, I thought it worked nicely because it put the focus on the mistreatment of Alice from her mother particularly, for me anyway. I tend to get very wound up when people act like arses in books and I hated Alice’s mother for sure. From the snippets of how she came to be married to Alice’s father through to her treatment of present day Alice I honestly hated the woman and I wanted something bad to happen to her.
There did seem to be some madness in Alice and the touch of the supernatural was interesting. It wasn’t really built up on and it could just be a coincidence the way things worked out but I liked it all because it wasn’t made a big deal of. It convinced Alice that she was different but headstrong as she was, she knew she was not mad and thats what she ended up fighting for.
The cult idea of Henry Prince is something that really touched a nerve with me and I thought it was done really well and made the story. I don’t want to say much for fear of spoilers but I adored that part of the book and it was my favourite part even though it can’t all be described as nice.
There was a lot of sadness in The Beloved and I would say its definitely not for younger readers because of some of its topics. I honestly loved every second of t and the range of emotions it took me through was incredible, from anger to hate to sadness to joy and love, it was all there and I really can’t praise the book enough. If you are looking for an incredible historical fiction author then look no further that Alison Rattle and if you want a tale of a girl who just needs some love in her life (and I don’t just mean romantic love) then look no further than The Beloved – you will not be disappointed!The Beloved was published on March 5th 2015 by Hot Key Books. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. To buy the book or for more info please visit: Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author website