I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
We all know I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and drama centered on war-time workforces. The Cotton Spinner is set not during a war, but the industrial revolution, but sounded just as promising as my other favourites. Needless to say, I was very excited about reading this book.
When Jennet and Titus Eastwood are forced to move from their idyllic cottage into the centre of Blackburn to find work in the cotton mills, their lives are changed in ways they could never have imagined and their new home on Paradise Lane is anything but . . .
Then Titus is arrested and sent to prison for attending a Reform meeting. Jennet is left to fend for herself and things go from bad to worse as she finds herself pregnant and alone – with another man’s child . . .
Jennet and Titus Eastwood move away from the countryside to find work in the burgeoning mill town of Blackburn. Their new life takes some adjusting to, seeing as how the industrial revolution means their jobs in hand-weaving are out and machines can produce cloth at a much higher speed than humans. Titus finds work in a local mill, but the long hours and low wages don’t help his family of three. Further troubles await the Eastwoods in the form of a reform meeting and a surprising pregnancy — all of which the rest of the story aims to cover.
The Cotton Spinner is a character-driven novel about the troubles the working class faced with the onset of the industrial revolution. Jennet and Titus are good people whose only fault is not being born into gentry. They struggle to make ends meet and it all comes crashing down when Titus attends a reform meeting that gets him in trouble.
Ashworth does a good job portraying life in the industrial North-West back then — turns out her own ancestors lived in mill towns such as Blackburn in this book! She masterfully writes about the stark differences between the abject poverty of the working class in Blackburn and the affluence of the gentry such as the vicarage residents and mill owners.
In addition to the class differences, The Cotton Spinner also gives a very realistic look into the justice and penal system of the times. While I didn’t find the main characters very likeable due to some poor decision making at their end, the story itself was able to keep me hooked till the end.
The Cotton Spinner is a well-written novel about the industrial northwest and the abject poverty of working class labourers at the onset of the industrial revolution. It’s a well-researched story any fan of historical fiction would enjoy.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5