WRAPPED by Jennifer Bradbury
Publication Date: May 24th 2011 by Atheneum
Summary: Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.
- Agnes is a marvelous protagonist; witty, intelligent, and so much more
- Intriguing mystery behind Egyptian artifacts
- I was sold with Bradbury’s beautiful descriptions and the many Austen references throughout the book
From the moment I started this book, I knew I would love it. Jennifer Bradbury is a master a crafting beautiful descriptions. I actually had to pause on the second page to read a line out loud at a friend: “The dress wrapped itself around me in tucks and folds of silk the color of cream as it stands on top of a cup of tea, waiting to be stirred in.” But the actual selling point for me, was when the main character, Agnes, recited the opening lines of Pride and Prejudice not only in English but four other languages. I was hooked.
I loved Agnes. I loved her drive to be more than just a silly debutante and her thirst for knowledge. I applauded that she was just more than a girl making her debut who cared for nothing but securing a husband, ribbons, dresses, and gossip. I found most impressive was her ability to learn so many languages. Learning ten languages is an accomplishment like no other.
The romance was subtle in WRAPPED but it was a highlight in the book. Of course there’s a love triangle, but it’s not the focus of the book nor is it cheese and forced. Lord Thomas Showalter is an eligible bachelor who has taken a liking to Agnes just when she is about to debut in London society. On the other hand, there’s Caedmon, an apprentice at the museum whom Agnes seeks out to help her with the mystery. The romance in WRAPPED is sweet, not passionate. While I did hope for a little more, I had to remind myself: hey, this is YA.
After reading countless historicals set in the regency era, it never occurred to me until now that I really didn’t know a single thing about the war with Napoleon that was always mentioned. The war is always mentioned in a sentence or two in novels set in this era, but other than the fact that it was acknowledged, nothing more was said of it. I loved that Bradbury gave me a historical context about this time period. While it aided my understanding of Agnes’s patriotism, it’s also nice to finally have learned something about this time period.
The mystery behind the standard was fascinating, but I admit that the actual process of using the Rosetta Stone and deciphering the messages tended to be a little confusing. But I really appreciated the fact that it took Agnes and Caedmon a while to figure out. The answers didn’t just magically click together the first time. They relied heavily on their intellect to solve the mystery and very little on luck. The resolution of the mystery wasn’t as shocking as it turned out to be, but I was satisfied as a reader because getting to that point had been an adventure.
I honestly wish that there are more historical young adult novels like WRAPPED. WRAPPED is a combination of all of my favorite genres, and I was sad to have reached the end of the book. While the story wraps (haha, yeah pun intended) itself up nicely, there is room for another adventure with Agnes and Caedmon. WRAPPED is a fantastic novel and if a sequel were to come out, all I could say to that is: yes, please!