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The Daring Ladies of Lowell: A Novel Hardcover – February 25, 2014


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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

Review

Praise for THE DARING LADIES OF LOWELL

“Offers up a compelling slice of both feminist and Industrial Age history”
 --Christian Science Monitor

“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, she makes THE DARING LADIES OF LOWELL appealing to girls of all ages”
--The New York Times Book Review

"
Both inspiring and thought-provoking. Ms. Alcott’s interweaving themes of strength, courage, love, loss and betrayal will keep the reader captivated for hours"
--Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star

"The storytelling is lively.”
--The New York Times 
 
“A riveting historical novel…
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
 
“Alcott draws on a real-life trial to lend authenticity to her romantic story….the book will illuminate and satisfy.”
--Publishers Weekly
 
“This spirited story of young working women making hard choices has a compelling core”
--Kirkus Reviews

"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."
--Booklist


 "Rendered in vivid, authentic period detail, The Daring Ladies of Lowell is a suspenseful, compelling tale of courageous young women fighting for justice—and sometimes their very lives—in the cotton mills of mid-nineteenth century Massachusetts."
—Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
  
“Set during the turbulent days of America’s industrial revolution, The Daring Ladies of Lowell 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, New York Times bestselling author of Alice’s Tulips and Fallen Women

“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. Kate Alcott has woven industrial history, small-town politics, and pure invention into 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  
 
 
Praise for THE DRESSMAKER
 
Historical figures become intricate characters in Alcott’s hands.” —Seattle Post Intelligencer
 
“Seamlessly stitching fact and fiction together, Alcott creates a hypnotic tale.” —USA Today
 
 “Offers a heroine you can really root for.” —NPR, “All Things Considered”
  
“From the minute Tess sets foot on the Titanic, this is the kind of novel you simply cannot put down and cannot forget.” —Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (February 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385536496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385536493
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I loved this book and highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction!
Ally P.
I think Ms. Alcott has done her research and woven a fictional story around a real event with a sharp and observant eye.
Margaret Fuller
My only complaint would be some parts felt a bit underdeveloped and the ending felt rushed.
C. Widman

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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22 of 25 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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26 of 31 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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