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The Daring Ladies of Lowell Paperback – October 28, 2014

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (October 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034580256X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345802569
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Alcott (The Dressmaker, 2012) chooses another working-class girl as the heroine of her second historical novel. To Alice Barrow, a job at a textile mill in 1832 Lowell, Massachusetts, represents both an escape from her rural roots and a chance to forge an independent future. Although the hours are long and the work arduous, she enjoys the companionship of the mill girls and the opportunity to take advantage of the intellectual subculture of Lowell, including the mill’s literary magazine and lectures at the Lyceum. Alice’s common sense and intelligence attract the attention of Samuel Fiske, the mill owner’s son, who invites her to act as an emissary for her coworkers at a meeting with his family. However, when Alice’s best friend is found hanged, her burgeoning relationship with Samuel is threatened as his family withholds crucial evidence during the investigation. Set against an authentically detailed mill-town backdrop, this novel interweaves the ­industrial ­revolution, feminism, and workers’ rights into an engrossing narrative with a love story at its core. --Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“A suspenseful, compelling tale of courageous young women fighting for justice.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
“Alice is cast in the mold of a character created by an earlier Alcott, the passionate and spunky Jo March. A refreshingly old-fashioned heroine.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Offers up a compelling slice of both feminist and Industrial Age history.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Both inspiring and thought-provoking…. Will keep the reader captivated for hours.” —The Free-Lance Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

“Riveting. . . . In this book, and in real life, there’s no story—or change—if people don’t push the boundaries of what is acceptable, or give voice to uncomfortable truths.” —Huffington Post

“Alcott draws from dramatic events indelibly etched in history and offers a fresh perspective. . . . Alcott’s work will attract historical romance fans who will be entertained by the antics of the daring ladies who leave everything they know and embrace less-than-ideal conditions to gain their freedom.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“The carefully detailed life in the Massachusetts cotton mills gives Alcott’s latest a ring of authenticity. Add to this well-drawn characters, a sensational trial, a forbidden romance and a young woman’s struggle for independence and you have a compelling read. Alcott is a splendid storyteller who knows exactly how to capture reader attention with a perfect combination of history and romance.” —The Romantic Times

“Captures the spirit and courage of the young women who dared to work at factory jobs. Kate Alcott draws on the true story of a murdered mill girl for this captivating story of loyalty, friendship, and love—most of all, love.” —Sandra Dallas, author of Alice’s Tulips

“An engrossing narrative with a love story at its core.” —Booklist

The Daring Ladies of Lowell are as complicated and flawed as any contemporary heroines, and they shine in this gripping 19th century tale about a small group of “factory girls” who refuse to be silenced when one of their own is murdered. . . . A nuanced gem of a novel about friendship, sacrifice, and love that will keep you turning its pages until the very end.” —Amy Brill, author of The Movement of Stars  

“Will illuminate and satisfy.” —Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

This book was good and an easy read.
The characters are all very interesting, the writing style and pacing are fantastic and the historical details work very well in this story.
Ally P.
It is well written and an interesting story.
Nancy A. Drebes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The basic plotline of this historical novel is nothing at all new. Essentially, it's a historical romance: young woman meets intriguing young man, they are drawn together but problems threaten to divide them. Will love triumph?

What made this more than a banal historical romance was the context. The story takes place in the early 1830s, the setting is Lowell, Mass., where the power of the rushing rivers has been harnessed to drive some of America's first major industrial ventures: textile mills. Suddenly, for farm girls like Alice Barrow, there is a horizon beyond the the family farm: a chance to earn their own money and achieve a measure of independence. But it comes at a cost: this is long before the era of the 8-hour workday, industrial accidents are all too frequent, and the mill girls are all too vulnerable. Including, it may be, to murder.

It's the violent death of Alice's best friend, Lovey, that threatens to derail her already problematic friendship with Samuel Fiske, the son of the owner of the mill where she works. The problems that Alice must work through are predictable enough; the plot itself is rather skeletal and feels rushed. But none of that detracted much from my enjoyment of the book. Clearly, judging from this and her prior book, Kate Alcott has an ability to venture into very, very well-trodden ground and still produce a novel that feels fresh, partly due to her straightforward, unflowery style and in part due to the characters through whose eyes the reader witnesses the events. In both of these novels, the main characters are straight out of central casting: young women from the lower classes, with talents and aspirations.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on January 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The mill girls of Lowell, Massachusetts are major players in an interesting episode of American History so I was eager to read the new novel THE DARING LADIES OF LOWELL. When I found a subplot of the book was partly inspired by a real life murder case involving a pregnant mill girl that was perpetrated by a Methodist minister who tried to make her death look like a suicide I was further intrigued. However I was disappointed in the book as the central plot centers on a highly unlikely romance between a young former farm girl named Alice who moved to Lowell to try to make a life on her own terms working there and the son of one of the mill owners. The murder case does provide some suspense and there are some interesting anecdotes about mill life along the way but the implausible romance is by far the driving force of the storyline.

And it is not just this improbable romance that makes the book less than average in my eyes. Early in the book the author has her heroine Alice reading love poems written by a poet identified as Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The book is set in 1832. Elizabeth Barrett had published very few poems by that year, was virtually unknown and had not even met Robert Browning at that time and certainly not married him and changed her last name. This may seem like a small point but it really made me question the integrity of the entire novel. Amazon is correct in placing this in the romance rather than the historical fiction category and even as a romance the book is merely average. For a really excellent book about a Lowell Factory Girl read CALL THE DARKNESS LIGHT by Nancy Zarouluis. It was published in the late 70's and if memory serves had the distinction of being edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By M. Grigsby VINE VOICE on December 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If Romance is your genre and you don't care if the characters aren't the least bit realistic for the time frame, you will like this book. If you were looking for a really great historical novel, keep looking. I was very excited when I heard about this book because I think the story of the Lowell Mills is extremely interesting. Alcott does throw a lot of info in about the conditions in the Mill, but her characters acted in ways that they wouldn't have been able to, given their circumstances. I thought the book could have been a lot grittier with more scenes taking place in the mill environment and more character development with the mill overseer, some of the men in the mill, and illnesses/injuries suffered by the workers. I was actually very disappointed in this book, I am sorry to say.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith VINE VOICE on December 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved reading The Daring Ladies of Lowell from the very first sentence! Penned by journalist Patricia O'Brien writing under the pen name Kate Alcott, it tells the story of Alice Barrow, a young woman who moves to the town of Lowell, Massachusetts and joins the life of the mill girls in order to get away from life on the family farm. While there, she meets and befriends Lovey Cornell, another mill girl, and quickly finds herself swept up in the struggle for safer working conditions, having been appointed as the spokesperson for the girls after a run-in with the Fiske family, who runs the mill where Alice, Lovey, and most of the local girls work. When Lovey is found murdered by a local preacher, however, Alice soon finds herself taking up the fight to clear her friend's name as well.

The thing that really got me into this story is the fact that while the characters are fictional, it draws in part from the case of a real-life murder victim who was also, like both Alice and Lovey, a mill girl. The blending of both real life and fictional situations was virtually seamless, which made The Daring Ladies of Lowell a pleasure to read. I hope that others come to like this historical novel as well.
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