A Family Secret

Written by Libby Ashworth
Review by Sally Zigmond

This the third book in the Mill Town Lasses series following The Cotton Spinner and A Lancashire Lass. Although it can be read as a standalone novel, I recommend they be read in order to fully appreciate them. It is now 1842. Titus Eastwood is still passionate about workers’ rights and the new Chartist movement. Most evenings, on returning from working one of the cotton mills (often on short-time), he attends local meetings and takes part in the long walk to the Houses of Parliament. His wife Jennet takes in laundry; their eldest daughter, Peggy, works as a trainee teacher and is studying for a place in teacher-training college; and their younger, Bessie, works at the same mill as Titus. Although Bessie is a kind, obedient lass, Titus has no kind words for her but spoils Peggy. Memories are long in industrial Blackburn, so when Titus finds out that Peggy is walking out with John Sharples, he forbids it just because John is a member of the Sharples family. But time is moving on, and people change, so when two faces from the past return to Blackburn from the United States, both Peggy’s and Bessie’s lives totally change. Even Jennet begins to wonder whether she married the right man.

With its perfectly pitched historical background underlying the story of how mistakes made in the past catch up with present-day concerns, A Family Secret promises a happy conclusion. But does it? This read wants more of this engrossing saga.