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Following Ophelia


3.82  ·  Rating details ·  132 ratings  ·  41 reviews
When Mary Adams sees Millais’ depiction of the tragic Ophelia, a whole new world opens up for her. Determined to find out more about the beautiful girl in the painting, she hears the story of Lizzie Siddal – a girl from a modest background, not unlike her own, who has found fame and fortune against the odds. Mary sets out to become a Pre-Raphaelite muse, too, and reinvents ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 9th 2017 by Stripes Publishing
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  132 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Cora Tea Party Princess
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 Words: Art, family, class, adventure, secrets.

Ever since I first wandered around the Laing Art Gallery as a young teen and set eyes on Isabella and the Pot of Basil, I was in love with an art movement. Much like Mary when she first glimpses Millais' Ophelia, I couldn't stop staring at the Pre-Raphaelite painting in all of its Romantic glory. So when I heard about this book, I was insanely excited. And I had very high expectations.

The writing in this story is very colourful, focused on the imag
Lucy Banks
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

I LOVED this book. To be honest, I suspected I might, as I have a complete obsession with the Pre-Raphaelites - and was really intrigued by the premise; viewing the art scene of the time from a maid's perspective.

The book follows Mary, a red-haired young woman, who heads to London to work as a maid. Initially, she hates her job (and isn't very good at it), but then her fortunes change when she finds herself under the
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
A beautiful story of beautiful people creating beautiful things.

I really loved the pacing, the setting, the presence of actual members of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, the passion, the romance...on second thought, what didn't I love? It's been a while since I've completely absorbed a book and been absorbed by it, and I was pleasantly surprised by how purely lovely (and a bit tragic, too) Following Ophelia was.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Following Ophelia intrigued me enough to want to request it for review, however I wasn't sure how I would go considering I know next to nothing about art in general, let alone anything about the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood. Thankfully, for fellow readers like myself, Following Ophelia is not only fascinating, but very well written and I didn't find it confusing in the slightest!

This book explores the life of Mary Adams who moves to London to become a maid and to follow her cousin Harriet's footst
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.
I picked this one because the description was on the same lines as another book I read last year―Wings over Delft (which was of course in a whole different time period and setting, and really a completely different story as well). This one tells of sixteen-year-old Mary Adams who arrives in London to work as a scullery maid, a job she isn’t really cut out for, but which is the only option available to her as she has lost her previous situat
Lauren James
Mar 05, 2017 added it
Shelves: ukya
​Following Ophelia paints a vivid tapestry of the world of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, familiar to anyone who has seen Desperate Romantics (one of my favourites!). New and old characters are equally charming, and Mary(/Persephone) caught my heart straight away. She holds her own in a new and intimidating world of flamboyant, talented men brilliantly. I was completely convinced by her as a character and could happily read a whole series about her. Thank god there is going to be one! I can't w ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Following Ophelia” is a well-written novel about a young maid becoming a Pre-Raphaelites painter’s muse. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, not only because it is beautifully written, but also because it manages to seamlessly interweave an interesting plot about Mary finding her place in the society of the Victorian era with more serious social themes and commentaries.
Mary is a sympathetic protagonist because she not only believably represents a young woman of her era but also has a strong moral c
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, my favourite serious. Can't put the book down even for a minute. The characters were enchanting and don't even get me started on the beauty of the writing. On to the next book in the series now.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
The great books keep on coming! Following Ophelia is about a girl called Mary Adams who joins her sister in London to become a servant to the Aitken family.
Mary Adams is a beautiful woman who becomes a secret model for a painting, naming herself: Persephone Lavelle.
But secrets and scandals will always be revealed, in this great novel based in Victorian London.
I love books based in Victorian London, and this was a very romantic one. I didn't like how everything revolved around Mary's/Persephone'
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgally, dnf, 2017-reads
In one word: Clumsy.
I got to 18% through the story and didn't care about any of the characters. Also, didn't feel that it rejected the blurb, though I can see where that would be coming from.
Either way, I put it down one night to go to bed and forgot to look at it again for 2 weeks. Kind of says it all to me.

I received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I hadn't really dived into YA historical fiction before so this was quite a suprising treat. It was initially a cover buy because I mean HELLO. GOREGOUS.

I'm so glad that it was great on the inside too as well as being stunning to look at and I actually think that's kind of significant to the story.

I didn't really know what to expect going into this book, but just briefly, it is about a young girl called Mary who gets called by her cousin to work in Victorian London, to hopefully gain a better
Christina Reid
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
"You seem like someone who's made for adventures"
That felt so much more real to her,and true, than 'made for laying tables', or 'made for cleaning grates'. The impossible had just happened and they made it seem easy.

A lovingly-researched look at a young girl from Kent who comes to London to be a housemaid and becomes a painter's muse. Realistic, flawed characters and a protagonist who is determined to forge her own way.
Looking out for the sequel now!
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved this book from page one. If you are looking for a good historical fiction book for teens - this is it !Mary Adams is our main character- poor but beautiful , destined to be a scullery maid ?! Not really ! It's not long until she attracts attention with her beauty, and her own love of art leads her away from her awful duties . Victorian London at its best, you will fall in love with Mary/Persphone !
Excellent, entertaining YA fiction.
Read it as part of my reading around the Victorian era Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood artists.
An excellent Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood artists exhibition is on at The Australian National Gallery at the moment and I've enjoyed reading around the subject of the artists, their art and their era.
Megan  (thebookishtwins)
Following Opehlia follows a housemaid who becomes a Pre-Raphaelite painter's muse. She is determined to reinvent herself as Persephone Lavelle and becomes the new face of the London art scene. However, she struggles to balance her two lives and she is forced to make some hard choices.

Following Opehlia was kind of just an okay read for me, and it definitely didn't really wow me at all. I have to admit, I did like the historical setting, and most of the time I also liked the relationships between
Justine Windsor
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It’s wonderfully well written and sweeps the reader along with a lush myriad of texture and colour. Every time I was forced to put it down, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. I loved Mary’s character and enjoyed her transformation into Persephone, but also worried for her as it was obvious she was going to have to leave her old life behind in way that would make it impossible for her to go back – not easy for a woman of her class. Which brings me to the other aspect of this ...more
Camilla Chester
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Almost a rags to riches story set when being a single woman was near on impossible. Enjoyed the mix of feminism and romance. My thirteen year old daughter gobbled it up and so did I (at 44!)
The Information Store
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really enjoyed it. I love really good historical YA.
Maia Moore
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Original review posted here

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

I did an essay on the Ophelia painting by Millais in university as part of a trans-media storytelling class. It was something I didn’t particularly have an interest in and knew nothing about but I actually really enjoyed doing it. So when I heard about this book, set in the midst of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, I was intrigued.

Mary Adams is a country girl who’s just moved to London to be a maid.
I finished Following Ophelia nearly three weeks ago and it's still in my head. I don't often read YA historical fiction, mostly because I can never find anything I like but Following Ophelia by the wonderful Sophia Bennett will be a tough act to follow (no pun intended...) I completely and utterly fell in love with Mary, the other characters, the artists, the setting and the history. In short, it was quite simply the perfect book for me to read!

There's long been an association between art and l
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Known for her chatty, ultra-modern YA – from fabulous teen fashion début Threads to brilliant bastion of boyband lit Love Song – Sophia Bennett’s first foray into historical fiction is pleasantly accomplished. Colourful, descriptive and neat, her prose here perhaps lacks the laugh-out-loud, natural feel of her contemporary work, but displays a remarkable shift to suit the genre. There is a richness, a patience, a stylistic satisfaction to Following Ophelia that makes the novel engaging and refus ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I received this as a free ebook via NetGalley; this does not affect my review.

I enjoyed Following Ophelia; I think it's a nice introduction to historical fiction for young people who may not have tried it before, or those looking for a romantic story with less love interest and more finding oneself. It is a classic rags-to-riches story, but I'm glad that it makes the point that women's lives were - and still are - so very precarious. Being an independent woman in this time period required either
pauline high
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting story and easy read for those who like historical novels. The story follows the adventures of Mary Adam's a servant girl who catches the eye of a Pre-Raphelite painter. Her life begins to change beyond her wildest dreams leading a double life. But eventually both lives fall apart and then she must decide on her path. It is a well written love story with a great description of the scandal and the glamorous lifestyle of this period.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Adams takes a job as a housemaid in London and somehow ends up as a model for pre-Raphaelite artist Felix Dawson but his patron, a wealthy widow is jealous of her impact on him and her life does not turn out quite how she imagines. Implausible but entertaining though the characters are never really fleshed out and it ends rather abruptly.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
i was interested in this but it just lacked credibility, there's no way a maid would be out gadding about like this, it was an eye-roller for me and i wished i'd not wasted my time with it. so many books so little time and all that...
Claire O'Brien
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mrs Craig
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Lacked credibility but a good story
June Jones
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Would have given it 5 stars, if it were not for the ending.
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My name’s Sophia, and I write about girls discovering their inner power. Sometimes they’re fashion designers, sometimes they’re would-be pop stars and sometimes they’re spies. They’re always a lot braver than they know, and I love it when they finally figure that out.

Since I won the Times/Chicken House competition in 2009 my books have been published around the world, from Germany to Brazil and Ja

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