The Daring Ladies of Lowell: A Novel by Kate Alcott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott is a Doubleday/ Random House publication set for release in February 2014. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Alice Barrow wished to become an independent woman. She leaves her family's farm against the wishes of her father , in 1832 and begins work in the textile industry. Being a "mill girl" proves much more difficult than Alice had anticipated. However, she does make friends with the other girls, especially a girl names Lovey.
Lovey was a nonconformist, funny, daring, and an all around great friend to have. The girls, especially Alice speak out against the terrible conditions in the factory. This gets Alice noticed by the Fiske family, owners of the mill. Samuel Fiske in particular takes a liking to Alice when she shows him the true nature of his family.
But a terrible tragedy occurs that brings down the reputation of Alice's friend and puts a barrier between her and Samuel and their budding romance.
This book is multi-layered. There are elements of a strong friendship, a strong willed Alice who gained much from her experience with the ladies of Lowell. There are the historical aspects that call attention to the treatment of workers, especially women and the attitudes of the upper classes that certainly felt these women were nothing more than slaves and balked at making the work conditions more humane. The attitudes of men toward any woman that got pregnant without benefit of marriage was also horrifying. The rules regarding women who were allowed to work in the mill and many other historical details kept me in enraged at the treatment these women endured.
This was also a courtroom drama when a man is accused of murder and Alice must testify.
There is also a romance between Samuel and Alice. This romance goes against the Fiske family's standards, but it's Alice's standards that are much higher.
This novel was inspiring and thought provoking. It took a lot of spine for Alice to make a stand against injustice. She made sacrifices for her co-workers and for her good friend Lovey. I wonder if there are many people today who would put their jobs and relationships on the line the way Alice did.
Over this one gets an A+