The Girl In The Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen

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The Girl In The Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: A good read with well written setting that really brings Bath to life and some great characters. This reviewer felt slightly disappointed by the end, but that's probably a matter of personal taste.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2012
Publisher: Oxford University Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0192792792

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Longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013

Shortlisted for Romantic Novelists Association Award 2013: The Young Adult Romantic Novel

Sophia has been living relatively freely while her father has been in the West Indies, running the estate, shooting pistols with her cousin Jack and generally being unladylike. But now her father is back and more than keen to see her married off to the next suitable gentleman who so much as looks in her direction.

But Sophia is not interested in a husband, nor is she particularly glad to be rushed off to the Bath for a series of balls, masquerades and social events. Though shirking her duties as a young woman of a rich, respected family prompts her father to beat and starve her, Sophia's not about to submit to the life of a young bride.

In the day, under the careful chaperone of her aunt, she may have to play a certain part, but by night, dressed in breeches and a man's shirt, Sophia and a friend take their revenge on those who trouble Sophia in daylight hours. At first it's a game, but then Sophia steals something more valuable to those who want it than gold or jewels, and she starts to realise there is a lot more going on in the Bath than she first realised.

Having lived in Bath for three years for uni, anything set there prompts immediate fondness from me, even when it's set in the past. Jensen, a graduate of my university, clearly feels the same affection for the place as I did when I was in my student years. The city is beautifully brought to life, with great attention to those interesting details that really make setting stand out.

Sophia was a great character - head strong, stubborn and proud. She was a bit slow to twig that there was something larger than her own struggle going on around her, but I think it was fitting for her character. There were a few truly detestable characters, from Sophia's barbaric father to her would be suitor, the aptly named Captain Mould. They were entirely believable and their presence gave a sense of claustrophobic tension as time started running out for Sophia.

What was particularly interesting about The Girl In The Mask is that Sophia's choice of activities took you on a tour of all walks of life - from the card playing, spa using, ball going upper class, to the daylight robbers, paupers and lower classes. It was like an all-inclusive tour of life in Bath in the 18th Century.

On the downside, the end did leave me a little disappointed, though that's more personal taste than flaws of plot and character development. Overall, a good read with interesting setting and some great characters.

My thanks to the publisher for sending a copy.

Fans of historical fiction might enjoy Troubadour by Mary Hoffman.

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