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The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  39 reviews
A delicious historical romance inspired by the true story of Princess Caraboo.

Cassandra Worrell is beautiful, rich and very, very bored. Trapped in her parents stately home, she dreams of escape. Life suddenly becomes much more interesting with the appearance of a beautiful, disorientated young woman, who speaks a mysterious language... Cassandra is convinced she's found a
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 2nd 2015 by Corgi Childrens
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Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story is a solidly written historical romance about the mysterious 'Princess Caraboo' and the respectful family which takes the princess in. It's a nice read, although the ending is a bit 'too good to be truth' for me ((view spoiler)). I also like the author included a note about the historical Princess Caraboo at the back of the book.
Virginie (chouettblog)
Surely, they are some of us out there who have experience it!

The overwhelming feeling born out of a situation so distressing, that you would wish the earth to open up and swallow you whole… and you can just simply disappear…

From those of us who have encountered very amusing and embarrassing moments who wish it to happen, to those who unfortunately have been afflicted with pain, a pain so unbearable that they might just literally take that step.

Well, Mary Willcocks did!

Catherine Johnson’s piece i
Lizzie (Littlehux) Huxley-Jones
This whole book is the most wonderful side-eye to ignorant white people. I love it.

Princess Caraboo shuns her life of trauma and servitude along with her old name Mary Wilcox, and is discovered wandering in a village near Bristol, clearly distressed. Rescued and taken to a pub, Caraboo is mistaken for a member of foreign royalty, based on her manners, her language and her exoticism. Taken by the effusive and shallow Cassandra to Knole Park to be studied by her mother Lady Worrall, Caraboo contin
Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies)
I'd really been looking forward to reading The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson for awhile now. So I was very happy to get a copy sent to me and jumped in straight away.

And I really liked this story. It's based on a true story of an actual young woman called Mary Willcox who managed to convince a wealthy family that she was a princess from the South Seas and that makes this story even more fascinating to me. I know that Catherine Johnson did change some aspects of the story
Rhian Ivory
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this unique novel based on a true story. The author's note at the back is particularly interesting because is sheds more light on the amazing Lady Caraboo.
The characters are charismatic, quirky and fully realised and the writing is so secure, confident and sound in tone and content that I really was transported back in time.
Beautiful writing, engaging characters and striking story which is all the more interesting because it really happened.
Michelle Toy
This book was originally reviewed on

I have really really wanted to read some historical fiction this year and as of yet I had not got around to it so when I was offered the chance to read this book I jumped and waved and shouted me me me and got very excited indeed! I have heard so many good things about Catherine Johnson's books that I was intrigued and this story seemed really interesting and curious....and since reading it I have to say I loved it!

The Curious Tale O
Maia Moore
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Original review posted here

I received a copy of this book as part of The Lady Caraboo blog tour, so big thanks to Ming and Corgi Children's for the copy.

I always feel a little anxious getting books to review, especially ones for a blog tour. It can sometimes be awkward getting that balance between wanting to promote a book and wanting to stay true to your feelings about it. I am always honest with my reviews, no matter where the books came from.

That was a sidetrack and not important because I co
Stephanie Cox
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is rich with beautiful language, vivid images and scenes, a strong sense of place and an abundance of interesting characters. It is based on the real life story of Mary Baker, nee Wilcocks, a real-life imposter who fooled people in England in the 1860s that she was really Princess Caraboo, an exotic young woman from a far away land. The book has fictional elements, and adds character and drama to make the story even more exciting and readable.

She makes England in the 1800s feel complet
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not sure what to think of this book, I knew nothing of the "myth" I guess of Lady Caraboo, despite living in the UK the majority of my life. I originally thought maybe it had something to do with a WI character because sometimes the islands are referred to as "the caribbea" (and also racially ambiguous model on the cover) but it was still interesting. I've never really been particularly interested in that much historical fiction, but you can't help but feel for the girl so hurt and damaged she c ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
The story that this book was based on was certainly very interesting, but I felt that the book itself lacked development. There was very little world building, and I didn’t feel like the characters were well developed enough for me to be invested in. It was a good story, but it lacked depth to me.
LH Johnson
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rich, vivid storytelling; The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo is written with such power and verve that it made me greedy. I wanted more. Much more. Johnson's novel is based on a real tale of a girl who was not herself. She adopted personas and identities and stories, really, in order to be somebody different and to make her life a little easier. This time, the girl chooses her new life after a dark and sharply horrific event makes her want to leave the last one behind. The blink of an eye, and ...more
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned-read
I think, of all the things I've read, this has been my favorite (to be fair this is the only fictional based on story I've read). This book has a little of everything--which is both a blessing and a curse. I wasn't quite sure why we needed the Cassandra/Will subplot, except maybe as a foil to Caraboo's adventures.

Johnson imagines Caraboo (Or Mary) as a young girl who's life was broken by heartbreak and betrayal, who takes up the Caraboo life not to con or bamboozle or steal, but because for her
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs, net-galley
(Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!)

I found this book really interesting, all the more so when I read the author's note at the back concerning the real-life inspiration for Lady Caraboo. If you enjoy books about con artists or books based on true stories, then I think you'd enjoy this one. You really start to feel for Caraboo as the net tightens around her and her lies. I do think the ending was a bit "pat" but I'm willing to forgive that seeing as the rest of the story was so thoroughly engrossin
The Catchpole Agency
Very enjoyable historical novel - definitely recommend. Johnson has constructed a fascinating novel around the bones of a real case. Questions of identity, what is "real" when everyone is playing a role in society, drawn with real wit. Non-white individuals are pretty invisible in the mainstream history of the uk, including historical novels, and I love this attempt to redress & question this. Great stuff.
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yr7 upwards
Who is Princess Caraboo - genuine princess or poor girl who reinvents herself?

The effect of her arrival on a wealthy family in the 1820's takes this story forward.

Really nice historically based story.

Interesting for the way it describes society, the people have quite rigid constraints on their lives, and their expectations, whether from wealthy or poor backgrounds.
Jul 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
to begin with this book was hard to understand and sort of all mixed up
was she really Caraboo or just an English girl
there was too much confusion for me to decipher through
i didn't like that
however it did clear up as it went on
so i began to enjoy the book more
so overall i liked it but found the beginning kind of confusing
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
A unique tale based on a true story. Intriguing and unusual. It's so well written that despite a few annoying characters I found myself really invested in Caraboo's life.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
well, going into this book I did not think it was a book I would typically read (got it from a secret Santa), and had little hope of reading all the way through. boy was I wrong! quite a good book, I must say....and a satisfactory ending as well. not a book I would keep in my collection (I'm very picky that way), but would definitely recommend it, and it is going in my little library tonight. :-)
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating historical fiction, when I learned from the author's note at the end that it is based on a true story I was even more intrigued! Recommended for readers with an interest in the Regency era looking for something a bit different.
Kat Ellis
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and totally compelling, especially considering that it’s based on a true story.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
The story of Princess Caraboo was real, while Catherine Johnson’s retelling is a little different, it is fascinating that the woman who became Caraboo (Mary Willcox) existed and her story of fooling the upper class made headlines.

The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo is wonderfully written. Catherine Johnson provides a very engaging narration with interesting and descriptive characters. The most alive and interesting of course is Caraboo, who sheds her past and become someone else to survive. I n
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
A beguiling tale about the stories we tell ourselves, with varying degrees of self awareness, to try and make our experience of the world feel better.
A shocking opening may be a stumbling point for some but I'd encourage readers to persevere and enter into the world this Regency period short novel, with a colourful cast of characters, plenty of passion one of the most intriguing Author's Notes I've read in a long time [phrased like this to avoid spoilers!]
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
A well researched and written YA novel. It brings to life the true story of Mary Willcox Baker, aka Princess Caraboo. A young woman who refused to be bound to the circumstances and constraints of her birth. A girl who reinvents herself, and makes the world believe in princesses, and infinite possibilities, if only for a little while. A lovely story!!!
Kirsty Stanley
4.5 stars. I wasn't sure it would be my kind of read but it's very good. Really charming tale inspired by a true story. Some really vapid and obnoxious characters but Princess Caraboo is the star of this tale. Reminds me of My Fair Lady and The Little Princess in tone.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This has been one of my most highly anticipated TBRs for the past year and when I finally was able to get my hands on a copy, I was not disappointed! I loved the writing style and felt the depth of the characters, especially the title character, Caraboo. Overall, a really good read.
3.5 stars. A unique and engaging read, with a lovely protagonist that I really connected with! Fred was the only other likeable character, otherwise the others kind of irritated me.
Brigid (chocaholic)
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
3 stars

It was good and I enjoyed it

BUT (there's always a but)....

It had it's dull moments and the storyline was very narrowed in that it focused on one plot- which is confusing as several other smaller plots were introduced and they seemed to have been pushed aside by the end of it. How did Fred escape his already mapped-out life? And Cassandra, did she ever figure out what Will did when he left? A few to many loss ends in my opinion.

I say all this but I did enjoy it. The main plot was interesti
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
This is an odd book. The author can write well, and some sentences are beautiful, but the entire concept of the novel is awkward. The historical person the heroine is based on seems to have been in the grey-black area; not in the white-grey area portrayed in the novel. So while it is a fictionalization of history, it is so changed as to be hardly worth doing. Furthermore, the unpleasant scenes written in to the novel to give it a base note do not seem appropriate to a YA novel.
Laura May Hill
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn't expected to like this book much as I tend not to read historical fiction, but I loved this book! I loved the plotline and the characters, and I was surprised when it was easy to get into and a really fun read. I was very pleasantly surprised!
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