Mary Hooper is the author of Velvet. (No cover yet)
SUMMARY: Rose is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Rose is desperate to create a better life for herself. Then Rose is noticed by Madame X, a famed medium, who asks Rose to come to work for her. Rose is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Rose realises that Madame X is not all that she says she is, and Rose's very life is in danger... A romantic and thrillingly exciting new novel from an acclaimed and much-loved historical writer for teens. (Publishes on September 5, 2011.)
An excerpt from Velvet, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2011:
London, Christmas 1900. Velvet, an orphan, has been asked by her friend Lizzie to share her family’s Christmas dinner...
Velvet managed not to open Charlie’s present until Christmas morning. When she did, she was disappointed - which was extremely wicked and ungrateful of her, she knew, but she couldn’t help thinking that Charlie’s mum must have chosen the gift within: a pink-and-green flower corsage for an outer coat, made of felt and not at all fashionable. She’d been hoping that the box might contain a pretty hair decoration with which to keep back her curls, or even a little silver necklace to enhance the Sunday-best dress that she intended to wear to Lizzie’s house that day. But what was she thinking of, she admonished herself, for if it had been a costly piece of jewellery or something similar, then she would have had to return it. A girl couldn’t accept a gift like that from a male friend unless they were engaged - and it wouldn’t do to give Charlie ideas. He was a sweet boy and she liked him very much, but he wouldn’t make a husband for her. He was part of the past which she intended to leave behind.
At Lizzie’s house she was delighted to find a proper Christmas, the sort she’d never had before. In the doorway hung a kissing ball of ivy and mistletoe, and in the hall the Christmas tree was liberally decorated with candles, gold foil and ivy ribbons. She felt shy at first, but was welcomed so warmly into the family that before long she was joining in everything - even the raucous singing games around the piano – as if she’d known them all for years.
Mr Cameron, Lizzie’s pa, was a source of amazement to Velvet. Whereas her father had always seemed to be teetering on the edge of a display of bad temper, Lizzie’s pa was a happy-go-lucky chap who whipped off his jacket and waistcoat to show his daughters how to dance the hornpipe, and made paper hats for their dogs. When they sat down at the table and Lizzie’s ma discovered that she’d forgotten to put the stuffing in the breast of the roast goose, Velvet went cold, fearing a terrible row, but Mr Cameron had roared with laughter and called his wife a flibberty-gibbet, then kissed her and said he wouldn’t have her any other way.
After the goose came a flaming plum pudding containing small silver charms: a boot, a coin, a top hat, a dog, a lucky horseshoe and a ring. Velvet got the tiny horseshoe (she decided that Lizzie’s kindly mum had arranged it that way) and everyone made much of the fact that this was the best token to have and that the coming year was bound to be very lucky for her. After the meal there was charades, with forfeits if you didn’t get the right answer in a certain number of minutes, then blind-man’s buff and – as the afternoon grew more boisterous - a game with a Ouija board which (with a little help from one of Lizzie’s sisters) managed to call up the spirits of people who weren’t really dead. At tea time everyone had a barley sugar stick from the tree, a slice of iced fruit cake and a bon-bon, and when Velvet pulled hers with Lizzie’s mother she was delighted to discover within it a tiny pair of nail scissors, a paper hat and a joke (My dog has no nose. How does it smell? Dreadful) which for some reason sent everyone into near hysterics.
Complimenting Mrs Cameron on the wonderful fruitfulness of the cake, Velvet, looking around the table and feeling very happy, wondered if her mother and father had ever had good times together. She decided they had not, for – from as far back as she could remember - her father had been an impossible man to please. Why, only last Christmas she’d made an effort to create a little cheer, buying a ham for their Christmas dinner and studding it with cloves, and her father had sniffed it, said that he hated cloves and thrown the whole thing to the floor. He’d taken exception to the way she’d decorated the room, too, and tossed the evergreens outside saying they were a pagan tradition which he would not tolerate (although he was certainly not a religious man).
Wow, thanks so much Mary for the intriguing excerpt from your up-coming book! You've definitely made me in the mood for Christmas. (:
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