Chrissie Walsh comes to the blog today with her debut, a World War ( historic fiction set in Yorkshire.
The Girl from the Mill
Lacey Barraclough is a simple farmer’s daughter, working a loom in the woollen mill and completely aware of the differences between ‘them and us’, even as she refuses to believe that she, or any of the women she works with are less than anyone else in town. And being the year before the outbreak of World War I, while the class systems and society is changing, there’s still plenty of discrimination to be found. Of particular interest to Lacey is her own skill with a needle, and the news of suffragettes and those working for equal rights. Her sewing skills are a mix of her own ideas and designs cobbled from fashion magazines that her mother brings home from the houses she cleans, and while things aren’t luxe, Lacey and her family manage to make ends meet with her father and older brother working the farm, her mother’s motley collection of geese, chickens and pigs, and her younger brother working as a general dogsbody in the mill’s warehouse.
From the start Lacey is no ordinary character: prone to speaking her mind, a solid sense of what is right and fair, and the determination to see her ideas through, she’s not the usual sort of worker in the mill – she reads constantly, including the newspaper, she’s got dreams and the determination to make those dreams her reality. And, when the mill owner’s son expresses an interest in her, and they start walking out, everyone is certain that it’s simply a fling for Nathan and that Lacey will get hurt. At any rate – Lacey’s own strength and goodness, combined with her putting her foot down with Nathan and ignoring his mother’s slings and barbs – the two are soon in love, and on his first furlough before being sent to the front, they are married.
Cleverly combining the personal struggles of Lacey and her family and friends with the war, with the growth and solidity of her own goals and dreams, and her own love for Nathan allow her to become the focus and the highlight of this book. Possessing well-thought out arguments, a backbone of steel and plenty of forgiveness and dreams to carry everyone forward, she shows her own little family in Yorkshire just how important a woman with drive and determination is, while not forgetting those she grew up with, worked with or tried to help. There’s plenty of atmosphere in this little novel – from the inside of the looms shed to the moors, Lacey’s house with Nathan and her little shop, not to mention the often stark contrast in homes from her childhood farmhouse and the childhood grand home of her husband. Cleverly crossing the ‘class lines’ in a time when that was rare and usually doomed to failure, the story is hopeful, engaging and clever – particularly with Lacey’s ability to argue with a rock (not exactly – but damn close).
Title: The Girl from the Mill
Author: Chrissie Walsh
Genre: British, Family Saga, Historic Woman's Fiction, Setting: Britain, Small Town, World War I
Published by: Aria
Published on: 3 January, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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In the drab Yorkshire town of Garsthwaite, Lacey Barraclough works hard in the textile mill, determined to fight for improvements to the dismal working conditions she and her fellow weavers face. But she hadn't reckoned on falling in love with the boss's son, Nathan. Nathan returns her love, but to succeed they must overcome the class divide, as well as persuade their families that their love for each other is real.
Before Nathan and Lacey can make a life together, World War I breaks out and Nathan enlists to fight. When Nathan heads off to the Front, he takes Lacey's dreams with him, and she must find a new way to face the future. As hard times come to Garsthwaite, will there be a home for the returning heroes to come back to?
And for those men who do make it back from France, can they ever outrun the horrors they have witnessed, and learn to love again?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: