Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson

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Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Vivid story of an artistic and independent girl born into poverty in Victorian England. Can Clover Moon escape her wicked stepmother and carve out a life for herself?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: October 2016
Publisher: Doubleday
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0857532731

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Clover Moon lives in Cripps Alley, a slum street in Victorian England. Her father works at the factory and the heavy work has taken a toll on his health. He likes to drink an ale or two after work, spending money the family can barely afford. Clover's mother died giving birth to her younger sister, Megs, a wispy, shy child. Father married again - to Mildred, a sharp-tongued woman who is free with a beating, particularly if the beating goes to Clover. Clover has another four half-siblings and it's Clover, rather than Mildred, who takes care of them.

Clover is an artistic, imaginative child. But how can she ever make the most of her talents with Mildred using her as a skivvy and when a future in service or at the factory looms ever closer? When disease strikes and a tragedy ensues, Clover realises that something has to change and enlists the help of her friends - a local crippled boy who gets about on a wheeled board, a kindly dollmaker, a vivacious music hall dancer - to escape a miserable future.

But can a girl like Clover ever realise her dreams?

I'm enjoying Jacqueline Wilson's new focus on historical fiction. She's clearly gone to great effort in researching the periods she writes about and you can see it clearly here, in Clover Moon. There is such a wealth of detail, from the awful toll in bereavement diseases such as scarlet fever took, to the intimate consequences with authorities invading homes and confiscating potentially infected possessions. It's hard to redecorate or replace bedding when you are desperately poor. Clover Moon is full of such revelations but it never seems laboured or expository. And while some of the details of the lives of poverty-stricken Victorians are distressing, a note of hope is never far away in the shape of kindly human beings who intervene to help little Clover. For every nasty Mildred, there is a kindly Mr Dolly or Thelma. Mr Dolly contrives a funeral outfit for Clover at one point and I confess it brought a soppy tear to my eye.

Clover herself is an engaging central character. She, too, has a deep well of kindness within her, which we see as she looks after smaller children, first in her Cripps Alley home and then in Miss Smith's refuge. But she's also impetuous and tart, sometimes even ever-so-slightly insolent. And she has a fabulous sense of humour and a huge imagination. You could fail to like her or to wish her well.

Clover Moon is the perfect read for middle graders who enjoy historical stories. It portrays the trials and tribulations of life in Victorian England vividly and with compassion. But it never lacks positivity. So it comes highly recommended by us.

If historical fiction is your thing, you might also enjoy Opal Plumstead, also by Wilson and exploring the suffragette movement to win British women the vote. Or how about Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley, which follows both a relatable heroine and the sad story of Catherine Howard.

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Buy Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson at


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