Book Review The Song of Peterloo by Carolyn O’Brien

The Song of Peterloo by Carolyn O'Brien #BookCover

Manchester 1819: Prices are high and wages are low, but as the poor become poorer, the rich are alarmed by their calls for reform.

Mill-worker Nancy Kay struggles to support her ailing mother and sensitive son. Desperate to provide for them, she is inspired to join the growing agitation. But, as she risks everything to attend a great assembly on St Peter’s Field, Nancy is unaware the day will go down in history, not as a triumph but as tragedy; the Peterloo massacre.

This is one woman’s story of belief in change, pieced together by her family and friends and the two men who share her momentous summer. A story of hope, and sacrifice, and above all, courage.

I’ve read several books about Peterloo, but still don’t think the situation is well known historically – the massacre of what is now accepted to be peaceful protestors fed up with high food costs and low wages by armed and horsed militia. Book included as part of A Box Of Stories, which means this book has been rescued from being pulped

This story is told from multiple voices/POVs. There is a difference in the “voice” between Mary/Nancy and other people in the story. Especially at the beginning, Nancy’s voice seemed forced as the local “there’s trouble at t’mill” speech pattern. I understand why it was done, it just jarred me every time. Once it moved from dialogue to description, this was less of an issue.

As it came to the crux of the issue, the relatively short chapters became even shorter, which resulted in a sped up pace in the storyline. Ultimately, there is a personal cost to both the mill owners and the mill workers

A slight issue with the secondary (and some of the primary) characters – their development only goes so far and then seem to be lost some where near the end – what happened to Adelaide and Joe?

Overall this was a decent take on the story, suitably personal for Nancy and the people around her, but lacking something about the extended characters (see above). The book would have not made the author top of the sales list but not sure it should have hit the ‘pulping’ list

For additional information on this issues, here’s the wikipedia page for Peterloo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterloo_Massacre </p>

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.