Ivy’s life isn’t exactly picturesque. At a very young age she is orphaned and forced to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins who really can’t afford to support another child. Once old enough, she is sent to school, but doesn’t even last the whole day. When running from school her beautiful red hair makes Carroty Kate, a thief who literally steals the clothes off of people’s back, catch sight of her and snatch her up.
Forced into becoming a con artist, Ivy is brought into a clan of thieves where every night she is given laudanum in order to suppress the terrible nightmares she faces each night. Years later she escapes, fleeing back to her aunt and uncles house. Everyday she works in order to provide for her still struggling family, well also fighting her addiction to laudanum.
Then one day a young painter, who instantly decides that he must have her as a muse, glimpses her. Ivy and family reluctantly agree, as the money is good, and it could have it’s benefits. Ivy soon realizes though that modeling isn’t what she imagined as she deals with a jealous mother, a familiar band of thieves, a persistent addiction, and a way to controlling cousin.
This is a great historical novel. There is so much to learn from this brilliantly written story, that it was hard to see it end. Not only are there historical facts, but also some life lessons that still apply in modern times.
Ivy was by far one of the more interesting characters that I’ve ever read about. She has many quirks and led a terrible life. It was great to see a fully developed character whose personality, however weird it may be, shone throughout the story. I really liked how Ivy was so mature for most of the story, but still had a child like aspect to her when the reader found out how much of a passion she had for animals. She was so excited by the fact at getting to work with dogs at one point in the story that it almost seemed like she had transformed herself into a girl who hadn’t had any hardship.
I also really liked how Ivy learned that modeling really wasn’t the best thing. Even though the story is set in Victorian England, Ivy still faces the problem of dealing with jealousy and not being good enough, which is something I’m sure many people in this day and age can relate to as well. She also shows people how much trouble an addiction can cause, and also how hard it is to break it.
Overall Julie Hearn did a great job recreating a very real Victorian England. Fans of historical fiction will absolutely devour this book. I am very much looking forward to reading more of Julie Hearn’s and will definitely recommend this book to many.