Thursday 25 June 2015

The Silk Factory by Judith Allnatt

Anyone who’s ever lost someone is haunted
Rosie Milford inherits a house in an old silk factory after her mother’s death and moves there with her young children. The discovery of a shocking truth about her own childhood, when she is already reeling from the breakup of her marriage, fills her with distrust and fearfulness. Then she starts seeing a strange child, wandering in the garden, who seems as lost as she is.
In 1812, silk master Septimus Fowler has grand plans to keep his factory in step with the industrial revolution: he will plant mulberry trees, rear silkworms and import new mechanized looms. Orphan Beulah Fiddement works as a bobbin winder and has secrets that the master would go to any lengths to get. Caught up in a dark adult world of illicit love, rebellion and revenge, Beulah must put away her childhood and draw on all her spirit to protect those she loves.
Beulah’s story of guilt and bravery will echo down two centuries and change Rosie’s life as she struggles to overcome the hand of her own past and find redemption.

The Silk Factory by Judith Allnatt was published in hardback on 21 May 2015 by The Borough Press,

Judith Allnatt's first novel; A Mile of River is one of my all time favourite books, I reviewed it here on Random Things back in February 2013.  I was delighted to receive a copy of The Silk Factory from the publisher for review.

The Silk Factory is not just the title of this story, it is also it's heart. Rosie Milford and her two small children have moved into a house that was once part of a silk factory. The house was left to Rosie when her mother died recently, and she hopes that she and her children can make a new start there. They've come through some difficult times recently with the death of her mother and the break-up of her marriage, and although Rosie often feels unsettled by being surrounded by her mother's belongings, she also feels comforted.

Judith Allnatt then effortlessly transports the reader back to the early nineteenth century as Rosie begins to notice strange things in the house with ghostly apparitions and discovers truths about her own childhood.

The harsh reality of life as employees of the owner of the original silk factory are exquisitely depicted through the authors writing. The young family of Effie, Tobias and Beulah struggle daily to exist, suffering at the hands of their employer Septimus Fowler and as their wages are docked once again, Effie begins to despair. Until she meets a soldier who promises to love her, but meanwhile Beulah is caught up in his own problems with their master.

The legacy of Beulah's story impacts on modern-day Rosie. This is a story of love and of memory, of loss and of hauntings. Judith Allnatt binds the two stories together wonderfully well, creating a novel that is evocative and moving. The dual time method works extremely well, and although I preferred the nineteenth century story, the modern-day Rosie is a very authentic character too.

My thanks to Ann from The Borough Press who sent my copy for review.

Judith Allnatt is the acclaimed author of A Mile of River, a Radio Five Live Book of the Month, The Poet’s Wife and The Moon Field. 
Her novels have been shortlisted for the Portico Prize for Literature and the East Midlands Book Award. Her short stories have featured in the Bridport Prize Anthology, the Commonwealth Short Story Awards and on BBC Radio 4. 
She lives with her family in rural Northamptonshire.

For more information about Judith Allnatt, visit her website

Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @JudithAllnatt


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