The industrial revolution was a worldwide game changer. The opportunities for social and financial advancement lured many away from the rural lives and jobs that their families had lived for centuries.
The Daring Ladies of Lowell: A Novel by Kate Alcott explores the lives of young women who left the rural life for the factories and the new lives they would lead due to the industrial revolution.
Alice Barrow is one of these young women. In 1832, she takes a job at a textile mill in Lowell, Massachusetts. The hours are long, the pay is poor and the safety standards are non-existent, but to Alice, this is an opportunity to earn her own income and escape a rural life. Her best friend at the mill is Lovey Cornell, a vivacious, outgoing young woman who is labelled a trouble maker by the foreman and owners. Alice is attracted to the owners son, Samuel Fiske and he is attracted to her. But when Lovey is murdered, Alice’s budding romance with Samuel appears to be on thin ice.
I liked this book. There are traces of Jane Eyre in this book, though not obvious at first. Like Jane, Alice is intelligent and determined to succeed, despite the barriers that are in her way. Samuel, as the first born son and heir to the factory owner, is sympathetic to the workers needs and much more liberal than his father would like him to be. The details about Alice’s life and work is authentic, I felt for her as a reader. This book has romantic elements, but thankfully, Samuel and Alice’s romance does not dominate the story.
I recommend this book.