A Victorian Woman in a Man's World
The Nottingham Lace Market During the Industrial Revolution
When you hear the word Nottingham, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I’d bet a spunky fella in green tights with a jaunty feather sticking out of his cap. Am I right? Did I win? But hey, guess what? Notthingham is oh so much more than Robinhood. Back in the day it was a hub of industry…namely the lace industry.
The Industrial Revolution put an end to cottage industries where lace was made mostly by women in homes by hand. Steam engines made it possible to power machinery that increased production dramatically. By 1870, nearly all types of hand-made lace had machine-made copies available at a cheaper price—and there was no greater emporium of lace and hosiery manufacturers than in Nottingham.
So, armed with these facts as I strolled the dampened streets of this fine city on a drizzly spring day, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like as a woman during this era. Not one of the factory workers, but a factory owner. Was it even possible? Surely it would take a plucky woman who was determined to be a success. And so was born Arabella White, the heroine in The Old Lace Shop, the third and final story in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas collection. Here’s a blurb:
Bella White can’t help letting her freedom go to her head when she’s widowed unexpectedly—and for good reason. She’s lived her whole life as a pawn, clutched in the hands of men, and she’s done with them, the entire brutish lot. Intent on proving herself as an independent woman, she moves to Nottingham to take over as majority owner in one of her late husband’s holdings. Co-managing a lace factory will be difficult but not impossible. . .or will it?
Edmund Archer is a no-nonsense businessman with a single softness in his heart—his only daughter. Determined to leave her a legacy of the most prosperous lace factory in all of England, he works hard for her and all the employees who depend upon him. And now victory is within reach, for he’s about to gain full ownership and will finally be able to implement his innovative ideas for expansion—until his deceased partner’s widow decides to retain her claim.
Bella and Edmund’s first business meeting is ill-fated before it begins, for much to their astonishment, they know each other. . .as former sweethearts.
Will a second chance at love heal their past or ruin each other’s future?
Sound interesting? You can snatch up your copy at the bookseller of your choice or you can try your hand at winning one at the Goodreads Giveaway. Either way, Merry Christmas!