Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson
Genre: Historical, Middle Grade
Publisher: Doubleday Childrens
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
After reading and loving the Hetty Feather series, we were both super excited to dive into Jacqueline Wilson’s latest Victorian historical adventure, that even promises a cameo from Hetty herself. This year, we’ve been rediscovering our old favourite Jacqueline Wilson books, along with keeping ourselves up to date with all the releases that came out the decade we stopped reading. It’s so exciting to read the most recently release, and Clover has worked her way into our hearts just as Hetty did.
Unlike Hetty Feather, Clover Moon doesn’t really seem to have a driving action. Hetty wants to escape the Foundling Hospital and find Madame Adeline. She has clear direction that she’s always aiming for. It’s hard to really pinpoint what the overall goal of Clover Moon is, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the first half of the book, Clover’s life in the alley is being set up, looking after a gaggle of children and causing trouble. You meet her best friend, Mr. Dolly, the doll maker, her wicked stepmother and come face to face with death in the form of scarlet fever. It’s jam-packed and the plot is always moving forward, until the halfway point when Clover heads off in search of Sarah Smith’s house for destitute girls and there’s a sudden change in scenario. By the end of the book, I was pleased by Clover’s situation, but felt the latter half was lacking the same sense of drama as the first!
Something that’s consistently good with Jacqueline Wilson’s historical stories is there sense of atmosphere. I loved the same Victorian setting from a different perspective, and there’s always a sense of reality – you can imagine everything that happens to Clover as things that happened to real Victorian children!
Clover – I absolutely loved Clover’s talent for dealing with younger children. She really stood out among her family, with a strong sense of leadership and chivalry that made her extremely likeable. I was a little worried that she and Hetty would be too similar, as girls that caused trouble and often spoke out of turn, but the subtleties in the differences of the personalities were fun to identify. Clover definitely felt like she calculated her decision more! Her voice really drove the story forward, and she was the kind of character you always wanted to prosper. A little Cinderella, with a heart of gold underneath all that dirt and grim.
Sissy – A completely unexpected appearance, Sissy helps out at Miss Smith’s home. It was so sweet to see another connection from the world of Hetty Feather and let a minor character have her own happy ending.
Mr. Dolly, Thelma and Mr. Rivers – Some of the best characters in the book were the people that helped Clover continue to survive in a safe environment. Thinking about it, there’s a real similarity between the story telling of this and that of Jane Eyre. Basically, JW has the bildungsroman down, and it’s great to think about younger readers experiencing a book structured by interactions with different types of people. It’s just another layer I can appreciate as an older reader of middle grade fiction. I think my favourite of the plot aiding characters was Thelma. She was so saucy, and injected that circus-vibe that Hetty always had.
Mildred – Definitely a terrifying villain, filling the wicked step mother trope, and terrifying all the more because she was human. Whereas the villainous characters in Hetty’s stories felt like caricatures, Mildred felt like a real person, that was mean not only from Clover’s perspective but other reliable people’s too, like Miss Smith.
Hetty – One of my favourite scenes in the book was when Hetty appeared. We get to know how she got her blue notebook for the Sapphire Battersea story, but also how she’s perceived by someone other than herself! It helped to make Hetty seem less extraordinary, but definitely emphasised the sensational style of her own story telling. I loved the pair together, and if Clover gets a sequel, I hope Hetty reappears!
Overall, Clover Moon was a really great and interesting book to read. We had most of this book read to us during a long car journey, and I’d definitely recommend the audio book as a fun way to digest the story. The writing is so easy to listen to and consistently good, even though it’s hard to decipher where Clover will end up by the end. As I said at the start, Clover made her way into my heart as a character I truly cared about, and the story really reinforced my love of middle grade books in a historical setting! Hopefully, it won’t be long until Jacqueline Wilson writes her next book, but until then, I’ll definitely be diving into Opal Plumstead!