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The Black Velvet Gown
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The Black Velvet Gown

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  774 ratings  ·  32 reviews
There would be times when Riah Millican came to regret that her husband had learned to read and write, and then shared his knowledge with her and their children. For this was Durham in the 1830's, when employers tended to regard the spread of education with suspicion. But now Seth Millican was dead and she was a widow with the need to find a home and a living for herself a ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published May 1st 1989 by Summit Books (first published 1984)
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Tara Chevrestt
I didn't realize that the education of the "lower" ranking classes in the late 1800s was such a controversial issue till I picked up this book. For a Cookson novel, it was a tad disappointing.. I have come to expect a bit more out of her. It had an interesting enough start beginning with a woman named Maria and her four children. Her husband has just passed away of Cholera, leaving her with two sons, two daughters, and a small bag of money in a mining town that wishes to kick them out. After bei ...more
Graceann
Sep 07, 2010 Graceann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction fans
I grew up thinking that Catherine Cookson was sort of a lightweight romance author, and thus I never really bothered with her. Imagine my surprise when I picked up The Black Velvet Gown, and found it to be more intricate than I expected, and written in an intelligent, sometimes stark fashion.

Riah is a young 1830s widow who finds that the fact she's been taught to read and write is more of a hindrance than a help. Her children encounter the same prejudices. Her daughter Biddy, especially, finds
...more
Laura
Just arrived from USA trough BM.

Page 165:
Books, books, books, I'd like to burn the lot. People are right, the gentry are right, the working class shouldn't be allowed to handle them, the're disturbers, trouble makers.

Page 218:
"In the main, ye happy, because they are satisfied with their lot; but teach them to hold a pen and to read from a page, then you are dropping seeds of discontent into their otherwise content lives.

This is the story of Riah Millican and their children, specially her daught
...more
Cynthia Haggard
My grandmother, Stephanie Treffry, was a great admirer of Catherine Cookson, and so I picked up this novel to try and find out what she liked so much about this writer.



Like Norah Lofts, another British best-seller, Catherine Cookson’s novels are tied to a particular place, in her case the mining and fishing areas of the north-east around Durham and Tyneside. So it is no surprise that this novel opens next to a coal-pit.



In this novel, however, we have more than one protagonist. The book descripti
...more
Leslie
I love this book and have read it at least 5 times.
I love the last line, "it just showed you that people should be careful before they do a kindness."
Barbra
Another good book by this author. Also made into a TV series.

Back Cover Blurb:
This is the story of a mother and her daughter, often at odds with each other, facing the need to challenge and fight the prejudices of the 1830's in the north of England. Now a widow, Riah Millican must look for employment, preferably something that would provide her with a home.
The chance to become a housekeeper didn't work out, but it led to Moor House and a scholarly recluse obsessed with that very book learning th
...more
Debbie Johansson
I really liked this story for its depiction of life in England during the 1830s and for the differences in the class system. It taught me that the upper classes believed that God made the poor the way they were in order to serve the upper class. It was inconceivable for those in the lower order to learn to read and write. I really like strong willed, intelligent Biddy and I always had a thing for Laurence. I originally read this book in my early teens and was my first introduction to Catherine C ...more
Julie
great read couldnt put it down
 Northern Light
Reading a Catherine Cooksoon book you know just what you are getting and this book is no exception.

It tells the story of Rhia who recently widowed has to leave her miner's cottage with her four children and try and build a new life. Times are tough and jobs hard to find so she has no choice in doing very long hard hours for little money.

The big story is the attitude to the family's ability to read and write which is seen by many as getting above their station. How they get round this is both sad
...more
Carobe
Kärlekens dalar.
Jayne
I think this is the first Catherine Cookson story I have read. Something about the bookcovers(I know it's bad.) put me off and if I hadn't been starved for choice, I doubt I would have picked this story up.

It's mainly about the relationship between a mother and daughter, where they feel their responsibilities lie, and how it completes their relationship. I enjoyed and could relate to the changes in their relationship as their circumstances changed.

Laura
When my Nan suggested that I read this I was a little doubtful that it would entertain me, so it was a pleasant surprise that it did and to the point where I wanted to keep reading. I really loved the character of Biddy and when I go back to my Nan I won't be so doubtful of her other Catherine Cookson recommendations.
Lili
I read all of Catherine Cookson's books some years ago and enjoyed them immensley. I recently re-read all of them and find that on a second look I found them all so very predictable, and was rather disappointed. However I'm sure that it is my tastes that have changed not the calibre of her story telling.
Loni
I did really enjoy this book, but I found the end a bit lacking. It seems to wrap up too quickly for how intricate and complex the plot was wound up. I would like this book better if there was a sequel because it really needs one. The ending just wasn't good enough for the rest of the book.
Marcene
I saw a movie based off a novel she wrote and wanted to read one of her novels. The book takes place in the 1800's in England. It tells of the sacrifice and strength a lower class mother has after her husband passes away. It was ...okay...a little slow, but for the most part a o.k. book.
Britt
I was hard pressed to really get into it at first. but once I was in the middle, I read it really fast. and towards the end found myself thinking about it (like Marianne said, that tells you it's a good book) and then wishing I had a few more pages to read at the end.
Joyce
Interesting, but with a strange, sad twist. I always enjoy reading about "ye olde england" because I love learning about the lives of different social classes in those days, and wondering how my ancestors lived.
Karen
Oct 31, 2011 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Karen by: Sallyann
Thanks SA for telling me about this author. I really enjoyed this book. There were no surprises but it twas a very pleasant historical romance. I liked her writing style and character development.
Jen
I really enjoyed this book. It is a book about the injustices served to different classes of people and the way educating plays a role in the mix. A story of love, hardship and fortune.
Christine
This is my first by Catherine Cookson, but won't be my last. I feared it would be too romancy, but it was a well-researched, interesting story of life in England in the 1800s.
Sabra
I have read almost all of Catherine Cooksons books. I have read them more than once. I enjoy her writing very much!
Kathleen Blair
I found this book on my bookshelf - I don't know where I got it - but it was great!!!!!
Jayna
A little too thorn-bird-ish for my taste, but it was okay for a historical romance.
Claudia
interesting story, but didn't like the ending so much. Liked the author's writing style.
Linda
A poor widow and her four children are taken in by a bachelor scholar.
Janet Randon
Really enjoyable as all of Cooksons books are.
Carrie
The movie was better, but an okay read
Jeanette
Love this bookI have read it two times
Kelly Sturmey
love historical romances
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83837
Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken woman, Kate, whom she believed to be her older sister. She began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer - her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for ...more
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