The Weaver’s Web
The story centers on the trials of the Henry Wakefield family in England during the Industrial Revolution. The increased need for workers added women and children and moved all members into cities with totally unprepared infrastructure. New housing consisted of back-to-back houses of two/three stories, possibly a basement, one entrance and one window only, no ventilation, heating or cooling, usually straw bedding and an open cesspit with communal toilets nearby. Dirt streets turned to mud with rain that often flooded the basements as well, and were littered with debris. Wakefield family members endure almost every change occurring in this society as they move from abject poverty to a higher position that also evolves problems.
The author well depicts the existing attitudes and activities associated with the mores of the time — male dominance, household help status, cripples, the justice system, bribes, orphans and mental hospitals — although occasionally expecting the reader to accede to descriptions of some of the activity.
An engaging story.