Anny Woodvine’s family has worked at the ironworks for as long as she can remember. The brightest child in her road and the first in her family to learn to read, Anny has big dreams. So, when she is asked to run messages for the King family, she grabs the opportunity with both hands.
Margaret King is surrounded by privilege and wealth. But behind closed doors, nothing is what it seems. When Anny arrives, Margaret finds her first ally and friend.
Together they plan to change their lives. But as disaster looms over the ironworks, Margaret and Anny find themselves surrounded by secrets and betrayal.
Can they hold true to each other and overcome their fate? Or are they destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?’
I sat down to read the first few chapters of The Daughters of Ironbridge and didn’t actually put the book down until I had read over half of it, then finished it as soon as I had the time to read the following day. I was quickly drawn into the story and loved the range of voices within it, particularly that it was largely structured to bring in an opposing or darker character’s point of view at moments when Anny and Margaret believed that they had matters all planned out, whether short or long-term, to expose the wider picture that neither of them can see completely. It’s a swiftly engaging read, for both Anny and Margaret are endearing in their own ways, making it easy to care for them, and even those characters who are not sympathetic or painted as good people are intriguing in a manner that makes it difficult not to invest in where their narratives are going too.
The Daughters of Ironbridge is an atmospheric novel that transports the reader to 1830s Shropshire with ease and eloquence, and I believe that this is one of the elements of the book that draws the reader in so quickly. The little details are excellent, as are the individual voices of the characters, all largely respective of their backgrounds without becoming simple stereotypes. I love that Anny is appreciated by many for her intelligence and doesn’t look down on those who haven’t had the opportunities that she does, her journey more about expanding her world than ‘escaping’ the one she’s been born into. Margaret is perhaps slightly less sympathetic as the novel progresses, yet, ultimately, she too tries to do right by the people she cares about in a world that would have her be quiet and obedient, and it is not her fault that there are some things she simply cannot fix. Not one of the Kings is an outright villain, their choices driven by a history and legacy that they can’t seem to escape – or are too willing to embrace.
A highly recommended read!
I received an ARC of The Daughters of Ironbridge from Netgalley and the publisher.