The Daring Ladies of Lowell
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The Daring Ladies of Lowell

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,362 ratings  ·  255 reviews
From the best-selling author of The Dressmaker comes the warm-hearted and enthralling saga of a bold young woman caught between two worlds-the vibrant camaraderie of factory life and the opulence that a budding romance with the mill owner's son affords-as the murder of her best friend sends shock waves throughout the town.

Determined to forge her own destiny, Alice Barrow j...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2014)
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My love for historical fiction focused on the labor movement began with Denise Giardina’s Storming Heaven. Since reading that novel (almost twenty-five years ago now!), my bookstore radar has led me to other novels treating similar themes. The newest such novel I’ve encountered is Kate Alcott’s The Daring Ladies of Lowell, and it’s a lovely addition to the genre.

You may or may not be familiar with the Lowell textile mills. As a quilter with a love of reproduction textiles (fabrics based on swatc...more
The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott is a Doubleday/ Random House publication set for release in February 2014. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Alice Barrow wished to become an independent woman. She leaves her family's farm against the wishes of her father , in 1832 and begins work in the textile industry. Being a "mill girl" proves much more difficult than Alice had anticipated. However, she does make friends with the other...more
Ann Woodbury Moore
I enjoyed Alcott's first novel, "The Dressmaker," about the Titanic, although parts were exaggerated or unbelievable. Her second story, "The Daring Ladies of Lowell," is set in 1832-1833 in Lowell, Massachusetts, and features young, hopeful, naive Alice Barrow. Alice joins many other women in their 20's and 30's who labor in the cotton mills, desiring freedom from overbearing families and tedious farm chores. She appreciates the independence and income she receives, along with friendships and ed...more
readinghearts (Lyn M)
Mar 18, 2014 readinghearts (Lyn M) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who like history mixed with romance
Recommended to readinghearts (Lyn M) by: Edelweiss
Kate Alcott's second historical novel, The Daring Ladies of Lowell is set in the town of Lowell, Massachusetts during the 1830s. Lowell is one of the East Coast towns that were famous for the cloth mills that populated the area and were infamous for their "sweatshop" conditions. Alice Barrow is a farm girl who travels to Lowell to begin work in the mill. Once she has found a dormitory with an extra space, she settles in and begins her career as one of the "mill girls".

There were several things...more
Holly Weiss
Alice Barrow leaves home to become a mill girl so that she can send money home to her father and never have to work on a farm again. Quickly she learns this decision will have challenging implications for her life when:

• A ten-year-old bobbin girl cries herself to sleep.
• Alice has no time to wash when 4:30 am wakeup bell sounds.
• Thirteen hour days leave her as crushed as a bug underfoot.
• Alice has to pay a fee to be trotted out on display when President Jackson visits.
• A young girl coughs up...more
I was really hoping for more with this book. I enjoyed the beginning, and looked forward to getting to know the characters better throughout the book, but by the late middle, I was bored. Some of the descriptions of life in the 1830's were very well done, but I also wished that the HISTORICAL part of "historical fiction" was emphasized more, in terms of the characters in the book (the author admits that most of them were made up!)...quite a few scenarios seemed far fetched in this book t0 say th...more
Christa Sgobba
I don't like reviewing books poorly--it makes me a feel a little guilty, since anyone writing and publishing a book is a huge accomplishment. And since I only rate and review books I actually finish, they aren't a whole lot of one-stars in my collection. If I make it all the way through, it has to be at least okay, right?

This book just really didn't do it for me. I was looking forward to it, too, because the synopsis seemed right up my alley--a murder of a "loose" mill girl rocks the small, 1800...more
Tara Chevrestt
She would find a way. One foot in front of the other, that would be how she would do it.

1830. When you think of life approximately 30 years before the American Civil War, you think of spoiled southern belles who rarely leave their plantations, let alone work. This was a shock to me, this story. I had no idea women were actually working in mills during this time. But really, I feel silly now for not having realized it sooner. But what happened to the cotton after the slaves worked it on the plant...more
The Daring Ladies of Lowell is Kate Alcott's new book. This book is based on a true event that occurred in Lowell during the 1800s. The characters and their back stories are the author's imagination filling around the basic facts. The textile mill industry with the mill system allowed for large numbers of young girls to work in the mill and live in boarding houses nearby. The girls ran more than one loom at a time and were constantly on their feet in dangerous conditions. Through this story line...more
This was such a great book, it’s not only the story of the ladies that worked at the Lowell Mills but also a murder mystery, fabulously written by the author and fantastically narrated by Cassandra Campbell.

This was a fascinating look at the working conditions of the cotton mills of Lowell, how sick these girls got because the windows were closed and their lungs would fill up with so much cotton they would cough up balls of cotton. How awful is that? Also the machinery isn’t in the greatest cond...more
If you grew up in Massachusetts like me, you likely went on a Lowell Mill tour at some point during an elementary school or junior high field trip. I went twice because when my Aunt and cousins visited from Texas they wanted to go. While you rode on a boat along the Merrimack River listening to a guide speak about girls and young women leaving their families from all over New England to work at the Lowell mills it was easy enough to disassociate from it yet dreadful to think about the harsh cond...more
Original review found at

* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House Doubleday via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*

This book is about independence, friendship, love, truth, convictions, equality and so much more. It tells the story of Alice as she makes the brave decision to leave her family farm to work in a cotton mill in order to gain her freedom and independence.

As one of the "mill girls" she becomes part of a tight...more
Anna Mills
"The Daring Ladies of Lowell" is so much more than a romance, but could stand as just that. It's about the newly created mill jobs in the early 1800's for young ladies that would become independent. They left their homes, usually farms, and moved into dormitory style living near the mills. They were overseen by live-in matrons and especially by the owners.
The young ladies left for various reasons, of course, but most were being stifled and/or mistreated and overworked at home. The mill jobs gave...more
Emily Savageau
I received an ARC of this book.

Really liked this book. It follows Alice, a young woman who decides to make her own life away from her father and takes a job working looms in a cotton mill. She lives in a house full of other mill girls including one called Lovey. Lovey is a bit of a rebel but she and Alice soon become friends. The story gives a glimpse into what the real mill girls would have had to deal with. The author has a note at the end explaining that much of what is written is based on re...more
Kate Alcott took a real event from the early 1800's and crafted a story around it. The Ladies of Lowell were the "girls" who came from the farms to work the cotton mills. Spinning, weaving the cotton grown in the south into useful products.
She addresses some of the working conditions, 14 hour days, the illnesses caused by breathing in the cotton fibers (you think your cat has issues... HA! nothing on these ladies), and she touched on the labor issues beginning to raise it's head.
Because I liste...more
What a wonderful read. A book like this only comes around a few times in a lifetime. Her focus on the labour movement and women's rights was thought provoking. Alice was such an admirable main character. A great model for women everywhere.
Lydia Pierce
Historical fiction that really does paint the picture of the "mill girls" of the time. Good story line. An easy yet very enjoyable read.
I am very glad I stuck with this book - it was great. This historical fiction story takes place in Lowell Mass. in the early days of the cotton mills. Alice, is a "mill girl." She is escaping farm life for the life as a mill girl. Apparently, many young ladies were escaping farm life at this time to work int he mills. It was fascinating to read about the conditions in the mills - the girls worked 13-hour days in terrible conditions. Girls coughed up cotton balls and the noise made their ears rin...more
Reading this book less than 40 miles from Lowell, and having toured the factories and boarding house, made for extra poignancy. The challenges of working in the mill are balanced by the extraordinary freedom the farm girls experience. For Alice, Lovey, Mary-o, Delia (and Ellia), and Jane, the drudgery and danger of the mills was balanced by the sense of power over their lives, in a way not possible wherever they were from. As Alice and Lovey become friends, it is clear that everyone has secrets,...more
Set in the mill town of Lowell, Mass., in the mid-19th century, this novel centers on a boarding house where some of the "mill girls" who worked the looms in the textile mill of a wealthy industrialist lived. The girls were mostly farm girls who were seeking independence and a life with more possibilities than were available working the farm. The reality was 72 hour work weeks, working 6 days a week, working on unsafe equipment that frequently caused injuries and death, working in hot, humid roo...more
A novel examining love, loyalty and the meaning of true friendship, while a piece of American history meshes all facets of themes.

Four main characters gave this book life. Lovey - a gritty gal, fearless and generous. Brave but wounded. Her outspoken nature caused her to be misunderstood and labeled incorrectly. A natural born leader with a personality you will find endearing. Alice - quiet but ever so observant. A leader, she chooses her words carefully. A heart of gold, she encompasses loyalty...more
UGH...I'm so behind on reviewing!!

This, if you want to boil it down to its most basic, is NORTH AND SOUTH set in the United States with some Elmer Gantry tossed in because...well because.
This is was enjoyable and entertaining and hit all the notes I was looking for: strong characters, decent writing, nice romance.
I really liked the main character, Alice, who was resilient and stuck to her principles but didn't become too preachy or too caught up in herself to lose sight of what was important....more
The Daring Ladies of Lowell: A Novel
Kate Alcott

What it's all about...

Alice leaves her father and farm life to work at the cotton mill in Lowell.

My thoughts after reading this book...

This was an intriguing novel. Alice meets Lovey on her first night at the mill. Lovey and Alice connect and spend work time and what little off time they have together. Life at the unbelievable...the girls earn about three dollars a in fourteen hour days...and breathe in c...more
Wendy Rowe
Great read. I love historical fiction (not necessarily historical romance, though I like a little thrown in). This was a glimpse into a mill girl's life, dangerous conditions, meager pay, living in the shadow of the mill owner - their concern for profit at any cost. I've read other books in this setting - this was well written and a good setting developed for the story of Alice Barrow and her introduction to mill work, meeting the mill owner's son Samuel (there's that little romance - though I'm...more
Just finished this historical fiction novel about the life of women in Lowell, MA in the mid-1800's. Lowell is famous for its fabric factories, the first in the US and for its dependence on young women to work the looms. Women came from the surrounding farms to make their fortunes and were housed in dozens of boarding houses with strict rules about the "ladies'" behavior.

The center of this story is the murder of one of the women ( this is true) and the author surrounds it with an engaging take...more
Having lived in Rhode Island for a few years, and traveled about Massachusetts, I am familiar with the sight of old, hulking mills that dot the landscape still. Some have been turned into office or living space, while others have simply been abandoned. I was looking forward to this book to remind me of a place that I miss dreadfully, and I enjoy reading about how women fought against the status quo throughout history.

Unfortunately, this book just didn't deliver. For one thing, a lot of it felt f...more
Doubleday  Books
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.
Alice Barrow is determined to be self-sufficient. A year after her mother's death, she leaves the family farm to travel to the Lowell factory to be a Lowell Mill Girl - a classy, hard working city girl who makes her own wages and is independent. Once at the factory she is thrown into a world full of difficult work, hazardous conditions, and a wonderful group of women whose friendship is the key to making it through the day. Although the hours are long, the rules are strict, and the women come fr...more
Living in New England means textile mills everywhere. This book made me wonder what might have happened in the mills that I see most every day. This story of a girl from NH who leaves the farm to go work in the mills of Lowell, MA includes an actual murder of a mill girl. Alice Barrow finds that long hours and grueling work are expected for the $3.00 a week she earns but she is determined to save and work her way to a better life. The harsh conditions are softened by the camaraderie of her roomm...more
I recommend this as a beach read if you like historical fiction.

An interesting story line with a somewhat predictable ending. Life of a millworking girl in 1830s Massachusetts. While a few bad things do happen to some workers in the mill, particularly lung problems, I think the mill conditions were probably sugarcoated by the author a little bit to make this a lighter and enjoyable read. 13 hour working days and the girls still have energy to walk around town, play the piano, go shopping and ca...more
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Kate Alcott, a pseudonym for author Patricia O'Brien, was a newspaper reporter in Chicago and covered politics in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon, is married, and the mother of four daughters.
More about Kate Alcott...
The Dressmaker La ricamatrice di segreti: Assaggi d'autore gratuiti A Touch of Stardust: A Novel

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“I like my life now," she said. "I don't need it to change."
"But it is changing," Benjamin Stanhope said, "None of us can hold things where we want them to be. It is all slipping and changing, Alice.”
“Children should have some warning, some way of knowing it was dangerous to look out at the world with unguarded pleasure. But who would want to tell them, to deprive them of those few moments of blissful ignorance that would have to last a lifetime?” 0 likes
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