Title: Clover Moon
Author: Jacqueline Wilson
Publisher: Doubleday children’s
Genre: Older children’s/middle grade, Historical fiction
Book format: Digital
Sweet Strawberries: Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description: Clover Moon’s imagination is her best escape from a life of hardship in poverty-stricken Victorian London. When tragedy plunges her into a world of grief, Clover realizes that everything she loved about the place she called home is gone. Clover hears of a place she could run to, but where will she find the courage – and the chance – to break free? And could leaving her family be just what she needs to find a place that really feels like home?

*Free copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for review…

Review:  Clover Moon lives in the poor part of Victorian London with her family: her father, sister, many half-brothers and half-sisters and a horrible stepmother. Life is hard as a skivvy to her stepmother and Clover’s destined to live a poor and sad life. But she has an imagination, one that will give her the courage to change her life.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read a Jacqueline Wilson novel before. I’ve known about several characters and even watched Tracy Beaker but I’ve never actually read any of her books, so I was keen to see why so many people love them, and this book did not disappoint! Set in Victorian London the book is told from Clover’s point of view, in the first person. The opening of the book is good, it captured my attention right away. Clover, being the oldest and most mature child of Cripps Alley, starts a game with the other kids to keep them entertained, but things don’t work and she’s soon in trouble. From the first pages I was hooked to read on and even though you’re introduced to quite a few minor characters early on, there wasn’t any confusion for me and I enjoyed reading on.

The story flows very well. You learn all about Clover’s imagination, her dreams of being away from the horrible place she calls home, her interesting friendship with Mr Dolly, and her love for her sister Megs. But Mildred, her stepmother, is a horrible woman and routinely punishes her children, especially Clover for any small thing. The story, for a children’s novel, shows quite well the horrible conditions that many poor children suffered in the Victorian age. However there was a lot of use of old terms such as clover wearing her ‘shift’ and an insulting term for someone being called a ‘sot’. I’m not sure kids will know all the terms used and will either look them up or make a guess.

The story isn’t all happy of course and the treatment Clover suffers from her stepmother could upset some young readers but it’s portrayed really well and should really upset too much. Throughout the whole story, even when something tragic happens, Clover is always a determined girl and fights to live the life she wants and not the one she seems destined to have. The ending of the tale is a good and satisfying one but could have gone on for longer, I wanted to see more of what would happen with Clover but I really do like the way the story finished. It was happy but at the same time a realistic ending, like this could have really happened to someone in Victorian times and not something really unrealistic.

At times, especially in the beginning of the book, when Clover talks, it’s in a way that sounds like a poor Victorian, a sort of cockney-style of talking, but this doesn’t last throughout the story and although we find out she can put on a posher voice and can read and write, I do wonder why her way of talking vanished, or was there at all in the beginning.

Overall I really did enjoy reading this book! It was compelling to read on, and I know many others will love the story. The back of the book has some information about the NSPCC, it’s history and what it did, which is relevant to the story, there is also information on Childline along with a number for kids to call should they need to. There is also a little bit of random information on the Victorians which was fun to read. This is a very good book and I’d certainly recommend it for anyone, kids and adults, interested in a compelling read set in the Victorian age.

Review first appeared December 2016 – now republished here.

Have you read Clover Moon or other books by Jacqueline Wilson?  What about historical fiction in general?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂