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Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott~★★

Author: Kate Alcott
Title: The Daring Ladies of Lowell
Release Date: February 25, 2014, read by Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Non-fiction

Audio Book Cover: "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.
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."

Taryn's Review: Historical fiction is always a genre that either really impresses me or makes me cringe. There are examples of great historical fictions that really capture the tone of the period and there are historical fictions that are down-right awful and not at all historical. I remembered seeing this book some time ago and wanting to read it, especially since the book was set in the time period of history I study. Would the book meet my standard for good historical fiction?

The answer was, sadly, no. This book frustrated me for a number of reasons. Firstly, most of the characters in this book were flat and one-dimensional. The only complex character was Lovey and she was killed off rather quickly. Alice was also extremely atypical for any woman who lived in New England in the 1830s. I can guarantee you no one, man or woman, would promptly announce that he or she was non-religious as Alice did within her first few hours at the mill. Alice was very progressive and liberal with little-to-no explanation as to why she thought these ideas (or how, in reality, those ideas would have gotten Alice in a lot of trouble). When Alice and Samuel Fiske were together, their dialogues caused me to roll my eyes; their interactions were so, so trite and predictable in a pathetic way.

The language used by the characters was incorrect at times and not on par with language usage of the early to mid-1800s. Also, during the trial of the man accused of killing Lovey, Alice repeatedly talked of wanting the man to spend the rest of his life in prison. In 1833 in Massachusetts if one was convicted of murder, one would be put to death, and it wasn't until 1852 when Massachusetts limited the death penalty to first-degree murder cases. Also, the Lowell Offering publication was not in print during the setting of this novel, but Alcott took the "creative liberty" to bump up the newsletter's birth to accommodate her story.

The narrator of this book was also an issue. She tended to over-enunciate the letter s. For example, very time she said the name "Fiske" it came out as "Fissssssske," and this was incredibly distracting.

I was interested in reading Alcott's book The Dressmaker, but honestly, after listening to this book, I have no desire whatsoever to listen or read another Alcott book. To me, this book didn't capture the complexities, realities, or spirit that the mill girls of Lowell had to navigate in their actual worlds.

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