The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott

source: free review copy via Amazon Vine
title: The Daring Ladies of Lowell
author: Kate Alcott
published: February 25, 2014
pages: 304
genre: historical fiction
first line: Alice stepped gingerly into the darkened dormitory, holding her breath against the unexpected.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of THE DRESSMAKER comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to the looms of Lowell, Massachusetts–and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.

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.

My Thoughts:
I found The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott to be fantastic historical fiction.
The story is centered around women working in Lowell in 1832 in a mill. I think the Industrial Revolution is a fascinating time period as so much was going on during that time in history.

The main character, Alice Barrow, has left life on the farm with dreams of making her own money and helping her father out. When she arrives at the boarding house where the women mill workers are housed, she is intimidated but still eager to work. Among the women workers she makes friends with Lovey, a high-spirited girl who breaks all the rules.

As the story flows, Alice finds out first hand all the dangers involved with mill work. The breathing in of cotton fibers and machinery accidents are at the top of the list of health hazards these mill workers suffered.

Alice ends up having dinner with the mill owners family under the pretense of bringing to light the horrible working conditions at the mill. She is bent on improving the working conditions and wants to be known as one of the Daring Ladies of Lowell, hence the book’s title. With her courage for speaking out about the dangers at the mill, Alice catches the eye of one of the mill owners sons, Samuel. This is a forbidden relationship given Samuel’s social standing, but the two are drawn to each other nonetheless.

Without giving too much away, one of the mill girls is found murdered and secrets come to light concerning her death. A murder investigation and a trial ensue. Some do not think a trial that necessary since the person dead is a mill worker and some try to blame her for what happened. Alice wants the truth to surface about Lovey’s death and and she will not stop until justice is served.

I love it when an author does their research when writing a historical. I felt like Kate Alcott did a great job at capturing this time period and setting.
Revivalists are woven into the story line nicely and there is even mention of William Garrison and abolition. President Andrew Jackson also makes an appearance in this one. At the end the author states that the murder of the mill worker in this story is based on a real event from the 1830’s.

Their fevered attention turned to the industrialists who had created the town. Wasn’t the cotton mill of Lowell supposed to be the shining example of how industrialism could benefit both owner and worker? Wasn’t protection of these farm girls flocking to Lowell of paramount importance?
p.113, The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott

I recommend The Daring Ladies of Lowell if you enjoy a nicely written historical and if you are interested in this time period.

About the author:
Kate Alcott is the pseudonym for journalist Patricia O’Brien, who has written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. As Kate Alcott, she is the author of The Dressmaker, a New York Times bestseller. She lives with her husband in Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my free copy of The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott via AmazonVine.

11 thoughts on “The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott

  1. This sounds like a good read! I like it that an author has done her research well too. Makes the story so much believable isn’t it. 😉


  2. This sounds very good.

    There seems to be a lot of books set in factories during the industrial revolution. These places seem so terrible.

    I agree that solid research only improves historical fiction writing.


  3. Hi Naida,

    Historical fiction is one of my favourite mainstay genres and one which I will return to again and again.

    I guess that if you read any of this kind of book about factory workers of the era and from either side of the Atlantic and the stories of hardship, violence and strife, will almost always be the same.

    I must admit that most of my reading from the genre is focused on UK authors and their perspective, so reading a story which is US centric, might be a good idea.

    I might just have to add this one to my TBR after reading your excellent review and comments about the conscientious research by the author.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Yvonne 🙂


  4. When I saw the author’s last name I thought of the author of Little Women and started mixing up the two in my head for part of the post 🙂 The stories are in the same part of the country, close to the same time period so…

    Anyway, this looks like a really good story. I don’t think I’ve read historical fiction yet that’s set in the American Industrial Revolution – and I like that the author seems to do have done thorough research. Thanks for sharing this.


  5. This does sound good, Naida! I find the industrial age an interesting time period too, especially stories about the plight of women in the workforce. The romance is a nice touch too. I will have to look for this one.


  6. I don’t read much historical fiction, but I see this one is really interesting because it even talks about women and positions of power and whatnot. I also would like to uncover the mystery behind the murder. Great review!


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