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Thursday, October 20, 2011

ELIZABETH ELGIN - THE HOUSE IN ABERCROMBY SQUARE AND A MISTRESS OF LUKE'S FOLLY

The first story deals with Patrick - who has through sheer brilliance and hard work is able to rise from his humble beginnings in Liverpool and is now on the threshold of a future amongst the elite in London. Engaged to Arabella, the daughter of an extremely wealthy, well connected man his future is assured.

Returning to his home to settle matters prior to his marriage Patrick is drawn into the life of his former best friend who has started a clinic for the poorest of the poor in Liverpool. Should Patrick give up his dreams of earning millions for the sake of suffering humanity in Liverpool is the question. How Patrick faces up to the biggest challenge in his life is this story.

Set in the most squalid part of Liverpool, with plague and illness rife - the rich unconcerned for the poor whom they employ, this shows us another side of England and the struggle people faced to just survive.



The second story deals with Sarah - a worker in the Yorkshire mills who is suddenly elevated to being mistress of the mills when she marries the owner's only son. The difficulties faced by Sarah not just in the family which she married into - but also being ostracized by those of her own background who look on her as a traitor is the story.  Her father particularly looks on her marriage as a betrayal and does nothing to ease the problems faced by Sarah. Added to this the beginning of unrest amongst the labour of the mills against unfair working conditions and insufficient pay also form the major part of this story.

Both stories highlight the suffering of the working class in an industrialized society where the poor have no alternative but to continue to work in inhumane conditions, for insufficient pay just to keep alive. No alternatives in sight at all and everyone is beholden to the rich man for just survival.
The beginning of the industrial revolution, the beginning of unrest and the spirit of rebellion against such unfair practices are features of both stories.

For me the first story was very idealistic and the second seemed very improbable but I liked the history of the period and the immense detail of both Liverpool and the Yorkshire mills. It gave me an understanding of why labour unrest became prevalent in England on the scale it did. Interesting reading from a historical point of view.

4 comments:

Harvee said...

Good stories. I enjoy reading British writers, the ones who write well, that is.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Mystica: Thanks for visiting my blog earlier. How about Higginbotham's on Mount Road, Chennai? You can read about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higginbotham's I have never been to Chennai so I can't say how good it is but I do know it is one of India's oldest and most popular book stores. Hope this helped...

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

This one is probably not for me but the history does sound interesting.

MarthaE said...

It sounds like this author exposes some of the harder sides of the labor force. The history does sound interesting. Thanks for sharing.