Alice Barrow leaves her farm life, and an abusive father, to become a mill girl in Lowell, MA, during the 19th Century. There, she befriends Sarah "Lovey" Cornell and enters into a life that is both more free and more difficult than she imagined.
The mill is owned by the Fiske family; wealthy industrialists, they all benefit from the hard work of their underpaid employees. The eldest son, Samuel, is more reform-minded than the rest of the family. Through a number of circumstances, he befriends Alice ... and before long, it feels as though their relationship is blooming into something more.
And then Lovey is found, hanged, in a farmyard.
Based on actual events, and employing sections of trial transcripts from the murder of a Lowell mill girl during the time period, Kate Alcott has create a book that is filled with believable characters and descriptions of employment situations that would give people pause at a minimum. Those situations are what led to many of the labor reforms, via the then-new unions, that we consider commonplace today but that were quite novel at the time.
I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and those who are interested in women's roles throughout history.