It’s London in 1872. Our central character is Leonora Sommerville who belongs to the upper class society. She’s strikingly beautiful and an heiress but she has a speech disorder beyond a stutter. She is able to mimic perfectly other people’s voices that gets her into trouble and earns her the name Mad Miss Mimic.
Sarah Henstra has researched and taken historical facts to blend a love story, mystery and thriller during a time period blurred by opium fever.
The National Reading Campaign, Children’s Book Reviews said “With a star-crossed romance, well-researched historical detail, and a conspiracy run by a mysterious syndicate, Henstra’s first novel is guaranteed entertainment.”
The Globe Mail’s recommendation was “This is the perfect beach read for that teen who got an A in History (and would rather stay inside watching Downton Abbey than go to the beach in the first place).”
If you and I were having tea together with Sarah, here’s some questions we could discuss:
1) Mad Miss Mimic is set in upper-class society in Victorian London. Every character (even Francis Thornfax) is stuck in a role that’s predetermined either by gender or class. How do various characters step outside their “proper” roles and what are the consequences for them and the story.
2) Leo’s relationship with Mimic is much like struggling with an addiction or an illness. At times, Mimic does take over as a character - as if she is a real person. How do Mimic’s different “voices” function in the story? What new insight do they offer about Leo as a character?
3) Given the class barriers of the novel’s historical setting, Leonora and Tom Rampling make a very unlikely pair of allies. What is it about Tom’s character and his actions that allows him to earn Leo’s regard — and readers’ admiration – despite the strikes against him?
Want more? Watch this book trailer as “there are things I cannot say in any voice”.
One of the characters I adored was Leonora’s aunt and so I’ll leave you with this line to reflect on:
“My aunt Emmaline says that your story decides who you are.”