Velvet – Mary Hooper

“Velvet had fainted too many times, according to Mrs Sloane, and was liable to be dismissed from Ruffolds Steam Laundry.
‘It’s the rules,’ Said Mrs Sloane, the laundry supervisor, following Velvet out to the yeard and waving a bottle of smelling salts under her nose. ‘Anyone who can’t discipline themselves not to swoon has no place here. You’ve already gone down twice today.’”

Following her father’s death Velvet managed to find herself a job at Ruffold’s Steam Laundry. However working next to the huge boilers for twelve hours a day made for a hard days labour and Velvet found herself almost at a loss. Persuading the Mistress of the Laundry that she is destined for better things she is promoted to Personal Laundry. Here she is responsible for the higher class of customers’ laundry and she is assigned a personal customer in Madame Savoya. When she attracts the attention of the mysterious woman Velvet is shocked to learn that she is a clairvoyant and one in need of a lady’s maid. But changing her life to become Madam Savoya’s Lady’s maid may bring about more shocking discoveries than Velvet could have ever imagined.

When I read Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper I knew I would fast become a fan of her style and her stories. Then I read Newes from the Dead and knew that I was falling in love with the atmosphere and the characters that Hooper creates… Now I’ve read Velvet I can quite happily say that Mary Hooper is without a doubt one of the best historical fiction writers I have come across.
Velvet is a wonderful tale, although the main character is a little naïve, I believe the story flows beautifully and didn’t leave me with any doubt that it could have happened in real life. The orphaned Velvet falls on good times when she is offered a place in the house of Madame Savoya and although I don’t believe in the spiritualist world of clairvoyance so I was pessimistic from the start, you get the feeling that if Madame Savoya isn’t genuine, she is brilliant at what she does.
Wthout giving too much away you learn a lot about Velvet, her past, her family and her reasoning for being the way she is throughout this book and even though Velvet knows all that from the very start she deals with it and gets on very nicely. The events throughout the book that make her open her eyes to the way life is and what exactly is going on are brilliantly placed and I can honestly say that the plot and pace of this book were spot on. You really find yourself working parts of the story out as you go along and piecing them together like one huge jigsaw and its really wonderful.
Velvet is very naïve, and I have to say this is the one thing I didn’t get along with in the book. I thought she probably should have worked things out about certain people and certain events earlier on but maybe it was down to the surprise of such a change in her fortunes that she wanted everything to be perfect for her and for nothing to go wrong! I loved her outlook on life most of the time and she did seem like a very sensible girl so I did like her, but love her I did not. I preferred Sissy with her great unconventional way, and Charlie with his unbelievable cuteness, he was such a sweetheart! I was begging for Velvet to run back to him at every point he was mentioned in the story and the fake wedding when they were eight – that’s just gorgeous! Lizzie was a great best friend character for this type of story, so I liked her a lot too.
Then there was Madame Savoya herself and George, her assistant, of course. I liked Madame Savoya but she wasn’t actually in the story as herself that much. She was so often there as a “spirit” – talking through Madame Savoya – that I would have liked to have gotten to know her better, gotten a bit of a background to her character. George was a very gentlemanly type of guy and I loved the descriptions of him and his overall character was very charming.
Velvet was a beautiful story with shocking events and scenes of which I had never read anything like before. The mention, and the visit to, the Baby Farms which existed in these times was horrendous and it took all my might not to cry over those poor children. I can’t believe something like that was happening within a 100 years of me being born! Velvet’s an amazing story of trust, love and friendship and I would seriously recommend this, and Mary Hooper’s other books, to anyone who enjoys a good, yet sad at times, tale. It’s worth the tears drops you will shed!
Velvet is Mary Hooper’s latest historical fiction story for young adults. It was published on the 5th September by Bloomsbury. Thank you to the publisher for hosting an amazing event which allowed me to meet Mary and obtain a copy of this book.


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