13 November 2012, Bloomsbury USA
After the drowning death of her abusive father, Kitty reinvents herself as "Velvet" in early 1900s London and gets a job as a laundress at Ruffold's Steam Laundry. After fainting several times from the heat, she gets moved into personal laundry because she is literate and a hard worker. She eventually has the alluring Madame Savoya as a client, and gets to meet her when Madame sends two tickets to her public performance as a psychic. Velvet is enthralled, and when Madame intervenes with Ruffold's after Velvet ruins a blouse, she's thrilled to go work as a personal assistant for Madame. She gets drawn into a strange world of raising spirits to talk to those who miss them after their death, and learns to enjoy the rarefied world
Strengths: I love stories set in Victorian times, about girls who triumph on their own. Lee's Mary Quinn mysteries, Hooper's Fallen Grace-- such good stuff, and Hooper excels at historical details.
Weaknesses: A bit of a hard sell, and for younger students, who are more interested in historical fiction, the description of baby farms might be a bit much. Still, nothing middle school inappropriate, and I may have to buy this one!