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The Daring Ladies of Lowell

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  3,328 ratings  ·  607 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2014)
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Yvonne (Fiction Books) I did a bit of research about both men and I have to say that, looking at the dates both men started up their respective mill enterprises, Samuel…moreI did a bit of research about both men and I have to say that, looking at the dates both men started up their respective mill enterprises, Samuel Slater was ahead of Francis Cabot by a good few years!(less)

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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
Sharon Huether
I won this free book through Goodreads-first-reads. The author made this story so alive with the dialogue between the mill girls and all the characters in the story. Friends are forever; thats what the author brought out. I felt I was in their presence. The girls that worked in the mill had to fight for reform,health and safety too. This book is movie material. I love the story.
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
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
First and foremost, thank you Sharon H. for the recommendation. “The Daring Ladies of Lowell” was a surprisingly engaging read - an equitable blend of historical relevance, characterization, mystery, and romance. Not overly studious but yet not trite and sappy.

I do want to point out, Alcott took extensive creative liberties with time-stamps and factual events. However, it didn't detract from conveying the poor working conditions and dangers common to mid-nineteenth century "mill-girls" and the
Lyn (Readinghearts)
Mar 18, 2014 Lyn (Readinghearts) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who like history mixed with romance
Recommended to Lyn (Readinghearts) 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I wanted to like this book because I like the period and the setting. I was disappointed. The author notes that she took some license (story is 1832 but the Lowell Offering was not published until some years later). However, there are other historical inaccuracies such as a reference to a farm tractor (without any qualifier), sending out a posse (the word existed at that time, but would it have been used in Massachusetts in 1832?), and mailing a postcard (earliest known postcard was sent, in Eng ...more
This book reminded me why I normally dodge historical fiction. I was drawn to this one--like a moth to one of those bug-zappers--by the interesting subject matter. It's based on the actual murder of a mill girl back in the early 1800s, but the writing was meh and the love story was double meh. The characters were a little flat and one-dimensional and the voice of the actress reading it (I listened to a recording) made it all sound really melodramatic. Redeeming qualities: Gertrude Fisk, and the ...more
Liliana Pinto
Este é o primeiro livro que leio de Kate Alcott. E foi um belo livro para começar!

Alice Barrow é uma rapariga que quer independência. E para o conseguir decidiu sair da sua aldeia e começar a trabalhar numa fábrica. É um trabalho duro, com muitas horas de trabalho e pouco descanso. Os únicos momentos livros são passados na sala comum na companhia das colegas. E é aí que conhece algumas mulheres que vão ter um papel muito importante na sua história. Mas é, também, na fábrica que vai conhecer o pa
R J Mckay
I received this book from Goodreads in exchange for a review.

“The Daring Ladies of Lowell”, highlights the life of the mill girls who are willing to work long, grueling hours bent over looms in hopes of bettering themselves. The mill conditions in the 1830’s resulted in terrible injuries and major health concerns, but there were many who were willing to overlook all of this to find a better life. Alice Barrow is one of these girls. She leaves behind an uncaring father, and heads to Lowell, Massa
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
I always enjoy reading novels about women who are strong and brave, no matter where or when. In this book, the leading character, Alice, is a lowly mill worker in Lowell, Massachusetts. She shares her sad background with many of her young female workers, many of whom came to change their lives by earning a living on their own.

I admired all of them for having the courage and grit to persevere in spite of the awful working conditions in the mills. They wanted to change their lives and endured lon
Alice leaves her home in the 1830's to move to Lowell and become one of the "mill girls", making her own living by working in a factory. There, she's given a bed to sleep in and quickly makes friends with the other girls working at the factory and living in her dorm, but she also quickly learns that although the factory promises independence and money, it's also dangerous. There are accidents working on the equipment, the air isn't good for their health, and the owners don't seem interested in a ...more
I decided to read this because I am currently working for a textile conservation firm with offices in one of the old mill buildings in Northern MA. I thought the subject and setting of the book sounded perfect for me and intriguing. I also hoped it would shed a bit of light on what shaped the spaces I now inhabit. Coming from a bestselling author, perhaps my expectations were too high. To echo another reviewer of this book, I hate giving poor reviews, "since anyone writing and publishing a book ...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
Take a true-life murder mystery. Blend with a standard romance plot. Shake in a pinch of labour unrest. Simmer a while. Voilà - a hearty spiced-up stew of a story.

The death in December 1832 of Sarah "Lovey" Cornell, a young woman who worked at the cotton mill in Lowell, Massachusetts, is the real-life mystery. Lovey's fictional co-worker, kindred spirit, and best friend, Alice Barrow, is dedicated to uncovering the truth about Lovey's death and becomes entwined with the mill owners, the Fiske fa
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
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
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
I received a free copy of this book several months ago with the request to write a review after I had finished it, so here goes. I love historical fiction and very much enjoyed the time period that this book takes place: Lowell, Massachusetts in 1830s. The story revolves around the girls who worked in the cotton mills and the conflicts that arise due to difference in class and culture. It included a love story of sorts between a mill girl and the wealthy son of the mill owner, as well as the sus ...more
Kelli Oliver George
The content of this period fascinates me -- I've seen BBC's North and South several times over and it never gets old (bonus! Brandon Coyle is in this movie -- how exciting it was that he went to Downton Abbey as Mr. Bates)


My main issue with this book was the events seemed contrived and unrealistic. Would a mill girl really have the freedom to be jaunting back and forth between Boston and Lowell like that? And at one point, the mills were portrayed as harsh and akin to slave encampment, b
I like historical fiction because I get to learn a little bit about an era while (hopefully) also reading a good story. This is set in a cotton factory in the mid-1800's and the story revolves around a group of six young women who work in the mill. I like it. :)
This was a pretty good read! One of the more entertaining and worthwhile reads I have had in a while, sad to say. The story had guts and it carried you along well enough that within the first chapter you were invested enough in the characters that you actually cared about the outcome; a talent that many authors are missing these days. I will be recommending this one to my book friends for sure :)
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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 A Touch of Stardust

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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?” 3 likes
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