The Daring Ladies of Lowell

Interest Level: Mature/Adult

“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.”  Change is the theme in The Daring Ladies of Lowell. These daring ladies stepped off their family farms in hopes of changing their futures. Once in Lowell, they began to take steps to change their working conditions. As much as many of us despise change, we can’t deny that sometimes, it’s the only way  things can ever be different.

Alice Barrow left her father and their farm to find new opportunities and independence as a mill girl in Lowell, Massachusetts. There, she finds more than she bargained for. She is instantly drawn toward Lovey Cornell, a girl full of jokes and laughter. They spend their evening hours on the porch discussing life in general and life in the mill. It is on the porch steps that Alice learns of Lovey’s burning passion to fight for better working conditions.

In the weeks after her arrival, Alice is thrust into the hard life of a mill girl. With Lowell on the cusp of revolution, the Fiske family decides they must make a show of caring if they are going to squelch the fire of revolt. From all the girls, they extend an invitation to Alice to join them in their Boston home to discuss the issues at the mill. It is there she learns that Hiram Fiske really has no desire to hear her complaints but was merely making a show of it all. She does, however, find an ally in Samuel Fiske, the attractive and caring heir to the Fiske family fortune.

As the days drag on, Alice will soon find herself caught up in love and loss. She must fight for the life of the mill workers as well as fighting for her heart.

Cautions:

*Lovey is a bit of a flirt and will disappear for hours at a time. She will be found one morning hanging from a tree by the neck. It is this loss that Alice must face and find a way to gain justice for her dear friend. At the trial for the suspected murderer, we will learn that she was pregnant. The prosecution will paint her as a prostitute who hung herself out of shame.

*One of the mill worker’s husbands will barge in and attempt to take her child. There is a clear picture here of the lack of rights married women had.

*The Fiske family is portrayed as being selfish and out only for themselves at the expense of their workers.

*Toward the end there is a little unrest and people will begin tossing rocks at each other.

*This is a time of the revivalist community. The man accused of murder is a revivalist Methodist preacher. There is some attack on the Methodist church because of this.

Awesomeness:

*This is a wonderful book about the fight for independence for women and the changes in the American society up north.

*It paints a really good picture of class in America and the growing desire for equality among the genders.

*Alice and Lovey are strong leading ladies. (Neither have a strong desire to know the Lord, but they are good people who attempt to do the right thing.)

*The dialogue during the trial was taken from transcripts of a similar trial during this time in Lowell.

Lesson Ideas:

*Research the life of a mill girl. What did she do? Where did she live? Why would she move away from her family?

*Research the Industrial Revolution and the advancements of the textile machines.

*Look into Andrew Jackson’s policies on Industrialization.

So Fair a Lady

Interest Level: High School/Adult

This is book 1 in a 3 book series by Amber Lynn Perry. I received this series for FREE through a deal the author had with Amazon. As you have probably noticed by  now, I am a sucker for historical fiction. Add some Jesus and romance to that and you can pretty much guarantee I’ll read it!

I would like to say something right off: just because a book is Christian, does not mean it is approved for all ages. As you’ll see, the struggles faced by the characters in this novel or relatable, but mature. So, just keep that in mind.

The setting of this novel is before the official start of the American Revolution, but Boston is an occupied city. The novel opens up with the death of Dr. Campbell. Eliza and Kitty now find themselves orphaned. Worry overtakes Eliza. But soon after, she finds herself the recipient of a marriage proposal from Samuel Martin, a captain in the British Army. Though she is excited, Eliza cannot accept right away. Her father left her with a note that unravels everything she thought she knew about him. Her refusal gives us a glimpse into the true character of Samuel.

Not long after the proposal, Eliza is awakened by a pounding on her door. She opens it to find Thomas Watson, a local printer and member of the Sons of Liberty, anxiously standing there. He quickly explains that she and Kitty are in danger and must come with him. Something in Eliza prompts her to believe him. She and Kitty gather only necessary items and take off with Thomas. They make it into the family fields just as the British arrive at the house. From their hiding spot, they are able to see the British soldiers enter the house and ransack it.

Thomas manages to get the girls to Sandwich within a few days. There, they hide out and try to figure out what to do next. Meanwhile, Samuel is distraught over the “kidnapping” of his future bride. He pursues the trail wherever it may lead. And of course, it eventually leads to Sandwich.

Throughout the weeks that Eliza and Kitty are hiding in Sandwich, Eliza will begin to learn the truth: the truth behind her father’s beliefs, the truth behind Samuel’s characters, and the truth about love.

 

Cautions:

-Thomas is being blackmailed by British soldiers. This is the reason he must run.

-Samuel is EVIL!! It becomes pretty obvious early on.

-Eliza is nearly raped by two drunken sailors.

-Samuel meets a horrific end.  

Awesomeness:

-Power of friendship, love and sacrifice

-Thomas is super sweet!

-The characters continually lean on and seek guidance from the Lord.


Lesson Plan Ideas:

Discuss:

-Not feeling forced to date or marry someone

-The roles of men and women in the time. Focus on the difference between Samuel and Thomas’ feelings about a woman’s ideas.

-At the time, people were loyal to their colony and then state before they were loyal to America as a country. This will continue to be felt even in the 1860s.

 

Research:

-Diseases of the 1700s

-Sons of Liberty

-Tea Act and the colonial response (Tea Party)

-The “Join or Die” flag and it’s origination.

Respond:

-In chapter 6 we read, “Those of us in the colonies are treated like second class citizens. Our king robs us with his taxes and we have no proper representation in Parliament. Our lives will never be the same if we continue to let King George dictate his will at every delicate whim.”  Do you think all the colonists felt this way? Can you list some of the taxes? Why did the king begin to tax the colonists?

-In Chapter 26 Thomas hears Dr. Campbell’s words: “The pursuit of your righteous desires is worth every sacrifice.” How does this quote relate to Thomas and to the colonial cause?

Wedded to War

Interest Level: High School/Adult

 

Forget being wedded to war, I am wedded to this book! I did NOT want to put it down, but I HAD to put it down a few times. This book made me cringe, gasp, moan in fear, sigh in frustration, and talk back to the characters. All of which are signs of a great novel.

Quick summary: Charlotte volunteers to be trained as a nurse for the Civil War. Her mom, sister, and suitor all disapprove of her decision. After training in New York, she is sent to Washington, D.C. to serve in the local hospital. There she is thrust into the hardships of being a woman in a male dominated world as well as the hardships of war. Woven throughout the war is Charlotte’s personal struggle with following her calling and what society deems appropriate.

Long summary: Charlotte is considered a spinster because she is 28 and not yet wed. She is being courted by Phineas Hastings, a wealthy New Yorker. Much to his chagrin, Charlotte volunteers to be trained as a nurse for the war. He figures this will be a short term infatuation and she will eventually put it all behind her and marry him. A few chapters in, we are introduced to Ruby, an Irish immigrant also living in New York. She is struggling to make ends meet and her husband Matthew recently shipped off to war. She finds herself in Five Points seeking work. She meets the a group of women who place women of high moral character but low socioeconomic status as domestics.

As fate would have it, Ruby is placed in the house of Phineas’ mother. There she meets the ill tempered Phineas. Phineas feels the need to control all the women in his life and out of fear for something Ruby overheard, he rapes her. Once violated Ruby takes to a life of prostitution. She meets Dr. Blackwell at her office in Five Points. There Dr. Blackwell matched Ruby up with a job in Washington, D.C. She is put under the care of… you guessed it, Charlotte. Ruby works hard and diligently and doesn’t know of Phineas’ and Charlotte’s connection until months after being in D.C.  

Charlotte, her sister Alice, and Ruby continue to work for the Sanitary Commission. All the while, Phineas is attempting to retrieve Charlotte and convince her to marry him. Phineas’ stoops to some really low levels in order to protect his wealth. It is his character that caused all of the emotions mentioned at the beginning of this post. 

I do not want to say too much more for fear of ruining the story and for you chance to make faces such as mine! (Note: these are from my instastory!)

Cautions:

*Phineas is a terrible man. He does rape Ruby and then blackmail her about it.

*Prostitution is discussed and for a short time Ruby is a prostitute.

*Ruby toys with idea of abortion and suicide.

*This novel is set during war, as such, wounds, fever, and amputations are all discussed.

*Be prepared to discuss abusive treatment or thoughts toward women.

Overall, this book is AMAZING!! I have not felt this kind of reaction to a book in a long time. I had to put it down and walk away a few times from frustration with the characters!! But I could not wait to come back to it! Jocelyn Green also does a wonderful job weaving in Biblical truths that stand the test of time. I love how Charlotte, Caleb, Edward, and Ruby all quote scripture to each other as a form of encouragement and love.

 

Lesson Plan Ideas:

*Chapter Two discusses the secession of Virginia and the attack on Union forces in Baltimore. Research the city of Baltimore and why they might attack Union forces. What was Lincoln’s response? You can check out The Hour of Peril as a resource for this. 

*Research all the historical figures in this novel:

-Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

-Dorothea Dix

-Robert E. Lee

-Abraham Lincoln

-George B. McClellan

-Frederick Law Olmsted

-General Winfield Scott (Scott’s Great Snake/Anaconda Plan)

 

*Research the inspiration for Charlotte: Georgeanna Woolsey

*Research the battles mentioned:

-Bull Run

-The Peninsula Campaign

-The Second Battle of Bull Run

*Watch the scene from America the Story of US: Civil War about the minie ball

*Look into Five Points and the Irish Riots of 1863 (Watch Gangs of New York for mature readers or used selected scenes that show the Conscription Riots.)

*Chapter 19 mentions Rose Greenhow, the main character from Wild Rose. You could have your child read Wild Rose: The True Story of a Civil War Spy or research female spies in the Civil War.

*In chapter 30, Charlotte meets Marty, a fallen soldier. She learns that Marty is actually a woman. Look into female soldiers in the Civil War. There are some great scholarly works out there about female soldiers. They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War is an excellent resource.

*The end of the book offers an insight into the true parts of the novel, including social norms.

*Jocelyn Green offers a free supplemental guide on her website for this novel.