The Secrets of Sophia Musgrove: Dancing and Deception by Janey Louise Jones
Sophia Musgrove is a privileged heiress in 1800s Regency London. Her life is one long whirl of shopping, dressing, and social engagements. Her father is in politics and her mother is a lady in waiting at court. Such busy parents mean that there's a great deal of free time in Sophia's life, and so once she's given her chaperone the slip, there's plenty of time for all sorts of escapades. And Sophia does love a good adventure. She's a feisty girl, and despite her indulged life, she's a little bit restless.
So when the gorgeous Mr Stevens appears and starts regaling her with tales of the evil slave trade, Sophia loses no time in getting involved. But it's a dark and dangerous world, and not everyone is who or what they seem...
This is the first in a planned series, and is a wonderfully light and frothy confection that the girliest of tween and early teen girls are going to love. It's the pinkest thing ever. Sophia and her friend Lucy are obsessed with the latest fashions, and they're all described at great length, as are the various social conventions of the time. Jones uses a twenty-first century-friendly version of eighteenth century diction, so it's not too anachronistic, but these girls have a firmly modern mindset, immediately recognisable to the readership. They're also boy crazy and they make all the usual mistakes of judging books by the cover and falling for the good-looking cads.
A few more serious ideas slip in - in this first volume, Sophia takes an interest in the slave trade and learns a few lessons in the most effective forms of political protest. She also champs a little against the bit of the gender roles of the time and is brought face to face with the harsh facts of economic inequalities.
It's a kind-hearted book with a little mystery in the plot - the kind of obvious-to-all-but-the-heroine mystery that make romantic novels such appealing reads. It's very, very, very light and perhaps not one for the serious or bookish child, but the girly girls are going to lap it up.
My thanks to the nice people at Corgi for sending the book.
There's a definite hole in the market for more books that are Georgette Heyer for tweens! History lovers will like The Roman Mysteries. We at Bookbag think Think Pink by Lisa Clark is an absolute must for all modern-day chicas.
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