At the Sign of the Sugared Plum - Mary Hooper;Mary Hoffman

The Plague - what a dreary subject.  Perhaps that's why I'd been avoiding this one even though many of my friends were raving about it.  Now I get it.  Yes, the plague is a sad topic (here we're talking about the Restoration era outbreak), but it's made somehow less so by our plucky little narrator Hannah. 


Hannah arrives in London to help her sister in her sweet shop just as the earliest signs of the plague are appearing in the poorer parts of the city.  Hannah has been so eager to escape her staid country life that nothing can dampen her spirits.  Like most young people she believes herself immortal and flippantly underestimates the gravity of the situation. 


So many historical novels like this imbue the young protagonist with wisdom beyond their years and I think it was such a clever choice not to do that here.  The reader *knows*, but Hannah does not and that makes the horror somehow more tolerable.  I also love that Hannah is so boy crazy and her immediate concerns are about her appearance and flirting.  She is a teenager after all!


The book also takes some surprising turns and I genuinely did not know where the story was going most of the time. All in all, a really pleasantly surprising and engaging read about a historical topic.