An excellent book written by Kate Alcott. This historical fiction takes place in the late 1800s America, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Incorporated in 1826 to serve as a mill town, Lowell was named after Francis Cabot Lowell, a local figure in the Industrial Revolution. The city became known as the cradle of the American Industrial Revolution, due to a large series of textile mills and factories. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowell,_Massachusetts)
The main character, Alice Barrow, left her family’s farm in order to make an independent living for herself. She became an employee of one of the cotton mills owned by Hiram Fiske. She lives with about a dozen other young women, crammed into a small room to sleep at night, and hurriedly eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the long table in the dining room of Booth Hall dormitories. The girls work from dawn until dusk, a 12 hour day, working the dangerous looms and other machinery. Even though they were free from parental authority, were able to earn their own money, and had broader educational opportunities, they still were looked down upon by the upper classes, the people who wore the very fabric these Mill Girls worked hard to produce. Even though the mill owners employed the women, and welcomed them, they thought of the whole idea of working women outside of the home as a radical threat to American life. Such a contradiction. Just like today.
Alice made friends with the dorm mate and millworker whom everyone called Lovey. Lovey was committing fornication with a local man, and was out late at night, several times. She lived dangerously, and Alice would try to persuade Lovey to be more circumspect in her behavior. Lovey ignored that, much to her misfortune.
The book is an exciting look into the real conditions of the working class women in America’s mills. Kate Alcott wrote a great book and it has caused me to learn more about working conditions before rules and regulations were enforced. Child labor, no safety equipment, no ventilation, horrible noise levels, no health insurance or workman’s compensation, NOTHING for these employees. People gripe and complain today about their jobs, they have it so much better than their predecessors.
Read this book, it’s very interesting!