The Lydgate Widow
Young Adele’s father fills her head with tales of the enigmatic Lydgate Widow, whose abandoned house dominates the Lancashire village. Orphaned at eight, Adele is then brought up by her sister, Julia, only ten years older. While Julia hopes to attain respectability through marriage, Adele, who must leave school early to earn her keep, aspires to make her career in the antiques trade. A false accusation of theft thwarts these ambitions. Eventually Adele marries a successful businessman, only to later flee his violence. Struggling to raise her young son in gritty 1930s Failsworth, her path eventually leads her back to the empty house of the Lydgate widow, whose haunting story has pursued her since childhood.
Connor’s portrayal of hard life in the Northwest is undermined by gaps in historical accuracy. Julia’s fiancé, a soldier in the First World War, sends her letters harshly criticising the war – surely these would not have passed the military censors. The dialogue also feels anachronistic in places. However, Connor’s fans will undoubtedly enjoy this heart-warming saga.