by Kate Alcott

Reviewer Rating:


Alice Barrow travels to Lowell to become a factory girl in a cotton mill run by iron-fisted Hiram Fiske and his two sons, Samuel and Jonathan.   In the boardinghouse where she stays, Alice meets feisty Lovey Cornell, an older mill girl who is as generous as she is reckless.  Despite some personality differences, she and Lovey become fast friends, and Alice begins to settle into a routine, at work in the mill and at the boardinghouse among the other mill girls. 

As tensions escalate over appalling working conditions, Alice is chosen as emissary between the workers and the Fiske family.  But even as she and the heir to the mill, Samuel, are drawn to each other, their budding relationship threatens trust on both sides.  Then Lovey is found brutally murdered, and Alice is determined to bring her killer to justice, even if it threatens her own future at the mill and her relationship with Samuel. 

The author does a fantastic job describing the intricacies of mill work for men and young women, as well as the labor movement for workers’ rights and working conditions.  I found the characters very well-drawn and engaging, and the romance between Alice and Samuel was handled in a way that seemed believable and realistic, even if it was a bit predictable.

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