About the Book
Born with a club foot in a remote village in the Pennines, Ruth is feared and ridiculed by her superstitious neighbours who see her affliction as a sign of witchcraft. When her father is killed in an accident and her family evicted from their cottage, she hopes to leave her old life behind, to start afresh in the Blackburn cotton mills. But tragedy strikes once again, setting in motion a chain of events that will unravel her family’s lives.
Their fate is in the hands of the Earl of Harrogate, and his betrothed, Lady Katrina. But more sinister is the scheming Marcia, Lady Katrina’s jealous sister. Impossible dreams beset Ruth from the moment she meets the Earl. Dreams that lead her to hope that he will save her from the terrible fate that awaits those accused of witchcraft. Dreams that one day her destiny and the Earl’s will be entwined.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.The Street Orphans is the first book that I have read by Mary Wood. It is not my usual genre, but one I dip into when I need something different to read to crime fiction. I chose to read this because it takes place near to where I live and the storylines concerning the cotton mills and particularly witchcraft is what I grew up with.
It takes place in the 1850s, roughly 230 years after the Pendle Witch trials but superstition and fear will always be present in some parts of the world. I sometimes think that in the area surrounding Pendle there will still be areas now that have the same fears that the people who tormented Ruth had.
It was the storyline that concerned Ruth and her family that I liked the most. The fear of poverty and the workhouse, the stigma of having a club foot and family loss was never far away. There was similar in the storyline concerning Katrina and Frederick but it was much harder to have any sympathy for them. I did quite like both of them but their families and friends were very unpleasant.
Some in the novel were starting to help the poor and this was done convincingly. Blackburn and the surrounding areas would have been a hard place to live and work in the 1850s and it was nice to see some that were willing to help rather than let the poor suffer in the workhouse unnoticed.