There is a fascination with orphans. I am not an orphan and I don’t really know any but I do enjoy books that feature intrepid orphans who set out to discover their true destiny often using one or two little treasures left with them as infants.
Verity Sparks lives in the London of 1878 and yes of course she is an orphan. As the story opens Verity is working as an apprentice milliner. Verity is sent to deliver a hat to a wealthy client but on her return later that same day she is accused of stealing a valuable jewel. Verity has been framed and is quickly cleared of the crime but the vindictive and aptly named Lady Throttle enacts her revenge by ordering that Verity be dismissed from her employer, Madame Louisette.
Luckily for Verity, Lady Throttle has employed a private detective by the name of Saddington Plush. Verity herself has a special gift for finding lost things. Her itchy fingers tell her the jewel is hidden in Lady Throttles own purse. Young Mr Plush or SP and his father the Professor are really interested in matters of the mind and so they are immediately drawn to Verity and her amazing teleagtivism. When she is thrown out of her home at the millinery shop Mr Plush, the Professor and their sister Judith take her under their wing offering a home, education, clothes and an immediate elevation in society. While all this is happening, though, there is the ongoing mystery of Verity’s own identity. All she has is a medallion with strange engraving, a ring and a small patch work quilt.
I started The Truth about Verity Sparks last night and finished it this morning. Susan Green has written a really good romp of a mystery story. There are heaps of characters – good and bad, lovely food, snakes and wonderful descriptions of the streets of London. The cover is perfect and this is one book I am looking forward to recommending to my middle primary students. You can read some thoughts by the author here.