Author: Kate AlcottSummary: Eager to escape life on her family’s farm, Alice Barrow moves to Lowell in 1832 and throws herself into the hard work demanded of “the mill girls.” In spite of the long hours, she discovers a vibrant new life and a true friend—a saucy, strong-willed girl name Lovey Cornell.
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: historical fiction
Bottom Line: Friendship, loyalty and love are the heart of this novel
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But conditions at the factory become increasingly dangerous, and Alice finds the courage to represent the workers and their grievances. Although mill owner, Hiram Fiske, pays no heed, Alice attracts the attention of his eldest son, the handsome and reserved Samuel Fiske. Their mutual attraction is intense, tempting Alice to dream of a different future for herself. This dream is shattered when Lovey is found strangled to death. A sensational trial follows, bringing all the unrest that’s brewing to the surface. Alice finds herself torn between her commitment to the girls in the mill and her blossoming relationship with Samuel. Based on the actual murder of a mill girl and the subsequent trial in 1833, The Daring Ladies of Lowell brilliantly captures a transitional moment in America’s history while also exploring the complex nature of love, loyalty, and the enduring power of friendship. ~powells.com
Review: There are historical fiction novels set in certain time periods and that sets the stage for the novel but then there are historical fiction novels that surround an event, which can be even more intriguing. The Daring Ladies of Lowell is a novel in the 2nd category and it doesn't disappoint.
It is easy to quickly get caught up in their plight at the mill. They are all trying to escape something; life on a farm, an abusive husband, etc. It is those things that bind them together. They understand each other. Alice and Lovey bond quickly and find themselves at ease with each other. Some think that Lovey is a bit too careless and perhaps she is but there is something easy going about her. She enjoys life and that is infectious to Alice.
Alice is extremely brave in the face of adversity. She isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in and fights for those she loves, even in death. She is trying to make a way for herself by working in the mill. She quickly becomes a leader in the movement to reform the mills. What the girls ask for isn't much and would improve their quality of life.
Alice is torn by her loyalty to the mill girls and her burgeoning feelings for Samuel. Throughout the book she learns that sometimes you have to take risks to find happiness. Samuel also struggles to find his voice and to get out from underneath his father. He fights for what he believes to be true and right, even if those around him are too weak to follow through. While Samuel and Alice might be from different backgrounds, it is their ideology that unites them.
I found the history of the mills, their work environment and how they attracted young girls to work there. I also loved reading about their manifesto, how ahead of their times these women truly were. I'm a sucker for a good romance intertwined into a well-written novel.
The Daring Ladies of Lowell is fascinating novel about a strong group of young ladies who led change.