Poppy Silk is the oldest daughter of a navvy, an itinerant labourer working on the railroads of England’s Black Country. With her parents and siblings, she lives in destitution in Blowers Green, a shanty town on the outskirts of Dudley, though yearns for something better. Through Robert Crawford, a sympathetic young engineer, she learns to read and write. Robert, in turn, finds himself drawn against his will to the attractive and delightful Poppy. But is their love strong enough to overcome society’s certain disapproval, and can she hold on to her virtue in an environment where heavy drink and loose morals are a way of life? Poppy Silk is a superior saga that happily avoids the usual melodrama, and in Poppy the author has created an appealing heroine who I couldn’t help but root for. As a consequence, I’ve already ordered several of Michael Taylor’s other novels.