Monday, April 29, 2013

ARC Review: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper

Title: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey
Author: Mary Hooper
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Release Date: May 9, 2013
Source: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) via NetGalley
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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 ...
Review by Nara

I think that before I start on the review, I have to say that The Disgrace of Kitty Grey was very much a book for younger readers. There was just something about the language that didn't quite appeal to me- it seemed a bit forced and clumsy at times. The descriptions were quite dramatic (just as the blurb is definitely a lot more dramatic than it need be) and exaggerated, the dialogue overly "historicalised" and, in general, it was just a weird book.

I went into it thinking that it would be either a light, fun romance or a historical mystery, but if that's the type of story you're looking for, turn away! Because this book is nothing like that. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I expected there to be a tad more mystery and a heck of a lot more romance. It just really wasn't my type of book.

I found that the events throughout the book were a bit too unrealistic- bringing me back to the point that younger readers might not find it so, and would hence enjoy the story much more. The main character, Kitty, goes to London, gets all her luggage stolen, somehow manages to find a job, gets accused of stealing chickens and is then promptly sent to jail. Really?? Frankly, I thought that things went a bit too breezily at times for Kitty. She gets her luggage stolen, but is able to sell a rug for money. She runs out of money, but manages to find a job as- guess what?- a milkmaid! And the owner of the dairy farm is super nice and even lets her haggle her wages! First of all, I didn't know there were dairy farms in the city of London itself, and secondly, seriously?! Don't you think that it would be pretty unlikely that a random milkmaid from the country would be able to get a job just like that? And bargain for her wages as well!

I suppose the author clearly did her research regarding the dates of historical events (seeing as though there was a bibliography/appendix type thing in the back of the book), but I don't know, there was something lacking. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't a milkmaid back then not have been that well educated? The way that Kitty spoke sounded a bit too cultured. The author did seem to make a big deal about Kitty not knowing this particular word, and that other word, but then kept making her use quite complex vocabulary and grammar- this just wasn't consistent. I was also a bit confused as to why Will calls Kitty Susie. Isn't her name Katherine/Kitty? Maybe it was some sort of joke that I missed. I did go back to read it to see if I had missed something, but unless I missed the same thing twice, the mix up in the name calling just doesn't make sense. (Although I'm not sure whether it's just a mistake from the ARC)

The ending was pretty unsatisfying- many questions were left hanging with no answers (particularly the issue of what exactly happened/is going to happen with Kitty and Will). The book was quite short, and although it wasn't the book for me, I can see the potential in it and I'm sure, for younger readers, it would be quite an enjoyable and interesting read.

It was okay

Overall: 6/10
Plot: 2/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5