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The museum; the heroine.,
This review is from: Tangled Threads (pb) - Duplicate (Paperback)The heroine of this soothing and soothingly predictable romantic novel is a beautiful (of course), young country girl, Eveleen, who successfully emerges hopeful, and cleverly virginal, from sexual oppression by the squire's son and from the trauma of being driven from her tied home. Eveleen nobly takes responsibility for her mother and her feckless brother on their journey, first to work for a hypocrite Christian Uncle and thence to the Dark Satanic Mills of Victorian and Edwardian Nottingham. The mother, Mary is driven temporarily witless by her husband's death and the consequent removal of the family from their tied holding and she becomes a greater burden for the youthful heroine. By pure chance, Eveleen finds work in a factory which turns out to be owned by the handsome (of course) old flame of her mother's, who might have been her (illegitimate) father. Fortunately for Eveleen and the story line, it turns out not to be so, because the old flame's son, Mr Richard, is equally handsome, dark, and presumably, heir to his father's successful business, and naturally, he falls in love, on sight, with Eveleen. He becomes her knight in shining armour and moves tactfully but inevitably to protect and save her from her several tribulations. Despite her brother James getting her cousin Rebecca pregnant and running away to sea, at last, everything ends with prospects of happiness all round, except for poor old Dad, who died early in the saga, and Rebecca who dies in childbirth leaving Eveleen with the baby. I found the author's ploy of keeping Eveleen ever pure, yet making her a mother by proxy at once ingenious, and amusing, yet touchingly realistic for the times portrayed.
What takes this novel out of the run-of -the-mill is the extraordinarily well-researched detail of the small world the characters lived and worked in. The second hero#ine) is the Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum, on which Eveleen's Uncle's framework shops and home are precisely based. This real background lifted the whole saga into vivid reality, and after the formulaic early pages, I was enthralled. There are echoes of Pride and Prejudice, but set in a lower stratum of society and with a less cerebral, but equally complex and fascinating set of characters.
Margaret Dickinson is a very experienced and popular writer and is generally very readable and enjoyable. Particularly so in this case. The amount of research that went into this book is evident, but not gratingly obvious; knitted into the pattern of the story faultlessly.
Tangled Threads will contrast and complement nicely the stock of more weighty academic and factual publications sold by the Museum. Margaret Dickinson's imagination has populated the Museum site with lively and romantic characters.