It’s been a long time coming, but I’m delighted to say The Chainmakers’ Daughter is finally here. Set in 1900s England in the midst of the industrial revolution, we find Rosie Wallace and her family working in the sweat shops of the Black Country. Life is relentlessly hard for ten-year-old Rosie as she struggles to do the family chores and help her mother make chain in her backyard forge. The average wage for a man working the chain factories is about twenty shillings a week. The average wage for a woman, working the same hours – about fifty-four a week – is four shillings. (forty-eight pennies)
A loaf of bread costs three or four pennies, rent of their tiny home is almost five shillings, the cost of fuel for the forge is thruppence a basket, and all they can afford is bread and bacon fat to live on – as a family of seven children and more almost bound to arrive, they are working every hour they can and still virtually starving. Although Rosie faces her future with spirit and youthful determination, it’s this appallingly low wage, terrible working and living conditions, and wanting to use what her schoolmistress called her ‘good head’ that prompts her to write a letter about their plight to Mary Macarthur, newspaper editor and social agitator, after she hears Mary speak at a local meeting aimed at enroling federation members.
Rosie’s subsequent involvement in the fight and strike for a minimum wage for women workers is what follows. What the women chainmakers risked in their fight for better pay can’t be underestimated any more than what they gained for the women like us who came after them. http://mybook.to/ChainmakersDaughter
“Some make chains. Some wear them.” Rosie Wallace survives on three slices of bread a day. Scarred by flame and metal, she makes her life as her ancestors have: making chains for the rich chain master, Matthew Joshua. There is no hope for a better future. No hope even for a green vegetable on the table. Her life will be making chains, marrying Jack, the boy she loves, and babies every year. But when an assault by the chain master’s son threatens the very fabric of her tenuous existence, Rosie finds the courage and the reason to fight for her survival and the lives of her family and neighbours. Set in the first decade of the 20th century The Chainmakers’ Daughter is a haunting portrayal of abject poverty, ever-present death, and modern day slavery.
‘Rebecca Bryn’s The Chainmakers’ Daughter is not only the most vivid and haunting portrayal of the 20th century struggle for workers and women’s rights but it is also timely and a mirror to our own modern struggles. Bryn’s novel is to be lauded for its attention to historical detail and its sharp depiction of true and crippling poverty but it is first and foremost a love story. Rosie Wallace is a woman both out of time and very much in time. Bryn has managed to produce a heroine that is recognizable as a feminist to modern readers and yet not a unicorn to the early 1900s. The Chainmakers’ Daughter is quite simply one of the most compelling and haunting works I have read in years. Characters, vices, and even steel comes alive under Bryn’s fingers and the chain of love she creates is nothing short of miraculous.’ – Rachael Wright, author of Captain Savva series.