Friday, May 09, 2014

The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose, by Mary Hooper

Eliza's arrival in London starts off badly: nearly immediately she is tossed in prison for theft.  Through a series of struggles and set-backs, Eliza gradually works her way up through the theater and gains the attentions of the nobility and the royalty in Charles II's Court.  Along the way, she holds a number of occupations as diverse as selling oranges at the theater to being an accomplice highway man.  Her quest throughout is to find her true family, having been cast out of the only family she knew, when she discovers that she is not the child of either of the parents that raised her.
No one writes as richly about seventeenth-century London as Mary Hooper.  Beautiful historical detail fills this story, which will serve mostly to impress upon readers just how terribly hard life was - especially for an unattached woman.  Hooper hasn't ventured far from the settings of her other books (and there is even a small cross-over to the heroines of her Petals in the Ashes and At the Sign of the Sugared Plum books), but this provides familiarity and lends her confidence to tell a slightly bolder story that mixes fiction and fact, and remains truly entertaining throughout.

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