There’s a special place in my heart for the books that leave me with a huge, goofy grin on my face. Seriously, you should see me right now, because I look like a fool. And I am one hundred percent okay with that, because this book was so fluffy and feminist and wonderful. A Mad, Wicked Folly exceeded all of my expectations, managing to be both hilarious, romantic and to make more serious points all at once.
Vicky’s parents sent her to France to attend a finishing school. You know, walking around with a book on her head and rubbish like that. What her parents did not expect was for her to take up with a local artist group, drawing nudes. The final straw comes the day she poses nude herself. At this point, you’re probably a bit shocked, because a YA heroine posing nude in the first chapter? What even is that? Awesome is what that is. See, the nude posing is all about how committed Vicky is to her art. All the guys in her class have posed nude, and she wants to be equal.
When I read the blurb, the heroine posing nude was intriguing but worrisome. Actually, that first chapter sets the tone for the whole book perfectly. Sometimes attention-grabbing openings like that really don’t fit in with the book as whole, but were kept because of what a good hook they make. That’s not the case here. In choosing to pose nude, Vicky’s setting a course for her future, in which she puts her dreams of an art career over the demands of high society. Though she was afraid of posing nude, she finds a strength and confidence in doing so. I love so much that, despite the inevitable fallout, never once does Vicky question her decision. She knows she acted precisely the way she needed to for herself.
As you might have guessed, Vicky’s a real spitfire. Her parents drag her back to London, determined to salvage her reputation by marrying her off quick as can be. At first, Vicky’s completely opposed, but then she figures out that Edmund, her intended, will be more likely to let her attend an art college than her recalcitrant, old-minded father. While being put through the rigamarole of her return to society and wedding planning, Vicky has to sneak around to get her portfolio ready for her application to RCA, the art college of her dreams.
Along the way, Vicky gets mixed up with the suffragist movement. Initially drawn by the urge to sketch the female protesters, she becomes more and more committed to the movement and convinced that women do deserve equal rights. Her vibrant personality and determination are invaluable. She really does seem like she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Can you tell that I love this girl? I also love that she’s not perfect. Vicky doesn’t always think through things realistically, tending more towards a logic not yet found in her time. She can be slow on the uptake and doesn’t excel at seeing things from other people’s points of view.
The focus on Vicky’s art and on the movement to obtain votes for women added depth to an otherwise flufftastic story. Don’t get me wrong, as I love fluff, but I did like the addition of real world issues to the romantic aspects and pretty dresses. This book has everything: strong women, humor, fashion, art, and a sexy male lead. All I’m saying is that I would not mind copping a feel, if you know what I mean. View Spoiler » Adding to a book I already loved, I am so glad that Waller left the story where she did, with a suitably happy ending, but one that doesn’t fall into a traditional romance HEA.
The Final Verdict:
What’s not to like about A Mad, Wicked Folly? I can’t think of a thing. Many squees and flails were had, and I’m still sporting my goofy grin.