My thanks to Ella Patell, Quercus Books for donating copies of The Matchgirl. Readers reviews are now in.
This is an absolutely brilliant book. I was gripped right from the start, so much so I was keen to finish the book and find out what happened to Lottie and her family.
The insight into the disgusting working conditions endured by these women was both fascinating and appalling, it seems horrific to contemplate that women were being subjected to such awful working conditions.
I am truly grateful to women like Annie Besant for helping to campaign against such treatment and convincing MP's to improve many people's working conditions and rights to a much more acceptable standard.
I would definitely recommend anyone to read this book as it gives a brilliant insight into part of our social history.
Beverley Ann Hopper
The Bryant and may match factory in Bow London that tells the story of lottie Perkins and her family and friends during the big strike for better working environment is an astonishing story.
I wish I could mark it a ten. It's a fantastic read that's truly heartbreaking in places but also full of joys, smiles, as everyone is united together.
I loved it and wanted to read on and on. I learned a lot more than I knew by reading this book. The author's careful research was all spot on. It's a book that I most certainly will read over and over.
It certainly put a smile on my face.
I will give this book 5 STARS, it is a brilliant read! Set in East London in 1888 a young girl Lottie worked at the Bryant and May match factory, she tried so hard to get better working conditions for the girls working there.
Some of the girls came down with phossy jaw which is caused by the phosphorous and with the help of journalist Annie Besant Lottie tries her hardest to help the girls get better working conditions.
With the authors hard work into research of this book, it's a winner!
A fabulous read telling the story of the Matchgirls working in the Bryant and May factory.
The young girls had to put up with appalling working conditions, and often ended up suffering with the terrible phossy jaw. Lynette has written it in a way to draw the reader into the story and so feeling all the terrible suffering along with the factory girls.
This tells the story mainly from the eyes of Lottie Perkins who as well as suffering the working conditions, she also ends up struggling against the unwanted attention of one of her bosses.
This book is packed with a rollercoaster of different emotions as Lottie and her family and friends fight back for justice for the workers.
I highly recommend this book and award it a well deserved 5 stars.
I have just finished reading the Matchgirl and found it not at all the sort of genre I normally read, in fact I found it rather predictable.
The story is one most of us know, it is a part of the industrial history of our country and has been a popular subject for many authors. I think I could foretell what was going to happen to most of the characters very early on and felt they were rather insubstantial.
The main character needed “rounding out” to be more gutsy. I know she was just a factory girl and was fighting against many odds but she was, in my opinion, rather wimpy. Her friend Floss had a bit more going for her and was more believable.
The men folk seemed to be just a sideline except the villain, how he escaped a beating from the factory lads I just can’t understand.
I would never purchase this book although I can see this author probably has a wide following but, not for me.
This author was new to me but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The main character was Lottie and her family and her work. The odious Oliver Steed, her boss, obviously saw her for the naive young girl that she was and began to groom her.
She had recently lost her father and was attracted by an older man who took an interest in her especially when he said he had promised her father to keep an eye on her, a lie of course.
Although he tried to rape her on two occasions she managed to get away both times. Her mother didn't believe her version, the girl was always to blame in those days. Lottie ran away to her auntie and her life improved from there. She was heavily involved in the industrial action for better working conditions alongside Annie Besant.
The Bryant and May factory was started in 1881 and the strike was in 1888. The reasons for the strike were appalling working conditions including 14 hour days, heavy fines for minor misdeamours and of course Phossy Jaw which was fatal.
Today there are 733 flats on the site and there is a blue plaque dedicated to Annie Besant.
A extract from the beginning of the book :-
'This book is dedicated to Annie Besant and the Matchgirl for all they achieved to improve the working conditions in Great Britain. And without them, we might not have the conditions in this country we know of today. They sparked off something with their campaign that spread like wildfire throughout the land.'
Even though this story is not a true one, it does hit on some of what was happening in the factories in the late 1800's and just what the working conditions were like.
The story is packed with a roller-coaster of emotions, as Lottie and her family fight for better working conditions, as well as getting justice for her friends and fellow workers.
Lottie Perkins, a 16 year old girl that works in the local match factory in Bow, London, working alongside friends. Her father had not long passed away, and her mother had only just started to feel herself again, and needed to get herself back to work, as the wage that was coming in was only from Lottie, and that barely was enough to cover rent as well as put food on the table to feed 6 mouths, without fuel for heating too.
A boss who apparently promised her father that he would look after her and her family, and naively trusting him.
But with the help of a journalist named Annie Besant, Lottie leads the factory girls out on strike and marches to parliament where talks take place and conditions change.
A story of also love, reunited family, an eye opener of what workers put up with in the late 19th century. I would totally recommend this as a good read.
When I was a young girl my dear grandfather used to say ‘strike a light’ as an expression of surprise or dismay. I didn’t understand then, but I do now.
More than 120 years ago factory girls at Bryant and May, in the East End of London, were losing their lives making matches in return for a pitiful wage So my interest was aroused the minute I opened The Matchgirl written by popular author Lynette Rees, who has painstakingly researched the subject.
Historical fiction is my favourite genre and this novel succeeds in informing and entertaining the reader in equal measures, which is much harder than it appears. In 1898 we meet sixteen-year-old Lottie Perkins who works in appalling conditions at the matches factory in Bow where ill health is not only tolerated by the matchgirls but taken for granted.
Lottie, however, is not the sort of girl to put up with the dangerous chemicals she handles every single day, or seeing her fellow workers being treated like animals – refused permission to wash their hands before eating and being struck by the foreman for accidentally spilling the matches She’s determined to bring about change. When tragedy strikes with the loss of Lottie’s best friend from ‘phossy jaw’ our heroine organises a strike of her own. Soon the factory is silenced.
Along with meticulous research the author has a knack of getting inside the girls’ heads thus enabling readers to laugh and cry out loud. I particularly liked the fact that real people are mentioned in this novel – particularly journalist Annie Besant who had the courage to stand up for her beliefs.
Reading this book in 2019 I’m acutely aware of the level of poverty that seemed commonplace a hundred years ago. History, in my day, was boring (apart from the war years) but this is better than any history book.
This novel is so much more: a love story, a story of hardship and hope, and a startingly honest account of the class system that still exists in Great Britain.
Finally, I hope that this book will be regarded as much more than ‘women’s fiction.’ Everyone should read it. I am handing the paperback to my husband right now.
This novel is a first for me by author Lynette Rees and did not disappoint. Woking conditions in the Bryant and May factory during the late 1800's were appalling. The workers endured dangerous and often life threatening illnesses, including Phossy Jaw which was indeed fatal.
Sixteen year old Lottie Perkins works in the factory and is appalled when one of her close friends dies. She is determined to try and improve the working conditions. Journalist Annie Besant helps Lottie and her fellow workers when they decide to go on strike in 1888. However all is not straightforward. Lottie is raped by her dreadful boss Oliver Steed who tells her that he will look after her and that he promised her late father he would always take care of her. This was complete fabrication. Lottie's mother is appalled by her daughter's behaviour and Lottie goes to live with her rich aunt.
The factory girls take their strike all the way to Parliament to demand change.
A meticulously researched novel, a story of love, hardship and overcoming seemingly impossible situations.
Lynette Rees is an excellent author and I look forward to reading more from her. 5 stars.
Wow, what a great read, really loved it!
It's 1888 in the East End of London and things are difficult for young Lottie and her family. Her mother is recently widowed and reluctant to leave the house.
As well as Lottie there are four younger brothers and sisters, twins Freddy and Davy are just five years old and sisters Daisy eleven and Bessie is twelve. Lottie is only sixteen but is the only wage earner in the family until her mother realises that unless she does something her family would be thrown out of their house into the street or the workhouse. She starts doing home working, making match boxes after getting refused a job in the factory. This can only be for the best after the conditions at the factory do not get any better.
What follows next is a very readable and lovely story, following the work and home lives of Lottie and her family and friends, what makes this story even more plausible is that it's based on a true story and the working conditions that the girls have to put up with in their day to day working lives would never be allowed today.
You must read this book to find out what happens to Lottie and the rest of her family and friends and if you love family saga books you will not be disappointed.
This is the first book that I have read by Lynette Rees and definitely won't be the last. A 5☆read.