Young Joan Wright knows exactly what she wants: to escape with her friend Marcie from domestic drudgery in her poor village of Lancashire cotton workers, and to make a living using their healing skills. They have sworn to have nothing to do with men.
But when roving, rascally, magnetic Sean McGilroy comes on a visit to his relatives, Joan finds herself attracted to him despite her plans and his bad reputation as a ‘light o’ love’.
Appalled by the poverty all about, McGilroy joins Joan’s father and the local Radicals in organising a protest march to St. Peter’s Field in Manchester to hear the famous Radical orator Henry Hunt.
Joan and Marcie organise a group of women to march with the men. Irresistibly drawn to McGilroy, Joan finds that she must choose between the dreams she has shared with Marcie of independence, or in taking the risk of trusting the beguiling but notoriously fickle McGilroy.
But meanwhile, McGilroy has made powerful enemies among those who have the support of the goverment to surpress the Radicals…
Targeted Age Group:: 16+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
On 16th August 2019 it will be the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre when a peaceful demonstration in St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, was attacked by armed troops. I thought that I must play a part in commemerating the victims of that terrible day, so I wrote a story about two young people caught up in the events of that march.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I wanted to write a beguiling love story about working class characters, with a strong female lead, and a male one offering excitement and risk.
He smiled. “I’d be sorry to see you move away, when I’ve only just come back myself.”
She was too wrought up fretting over her plans to take much heed of those words, which most likely was what he said to all sorts of lasses, along with giving them that warm smile. With those flashing white teeth and sparkling blue eyes, it was no wonder too many foolish girls had allowed themselves to be drawn in by his ways.
Then he added, musingly again, “A lass who wants to move about needs a man along of her to watch out for her.”
Joan tossed her head. “Marcie and me will look out for each other and no need of men.”
“You’d not be able to safeguard each other enough.” Now that shadow passed across McGilroy’s face, the same as when Nat and Ben pestered him about his adventures in the late wars. “You’d do better, Miss Joan, to see what you can make out of your doctoring here at home and then see.”
This humdrum future seemed all too likely. It made Joan feel cast down: more likely than not, she and Marcie would be stuck at home for ever, or at least until they were over twenty and getting long in the tooth.
“So we are trying to make something out of our doctoring, and unpaid, when we’re allowed time off from housework and the workroom,” she snapped. She saw that this was turning into a dispute, and she didn’t see why she should explain all this to him. It was her own fault for speaking of her dreams to him. She wondered whatever had made her do that.
She said sullenly, “But we do want to see other places and do things. Why aren’t females supposed to want that? Anyway, you must have been younger than us when you left home.”
“I was, and ran off to join t’wars. But it’s different for a lad.”
Joan thought he said that smugly. “Humph,” was all she could think of to say. She had a let down feeling about their talk, and she didn’t know why. “You spoke when last we met of having two things to tell me.”
Now he looked caught out, but spoke lightly, “I was talking too soon, about what I thought I knew for sure.”
Before Joan could make anything of that, he broke off at a sudden outburst of shouting from down the lane.
They had both been so wrapped up in this talk, they’d had no ears for what was happening in the world outside. Now, the distant noises surged up, too loud to ignore.
Voices shouted; one shrieked; thuds sounded. Among them came the jolly notes of piped music.
“Stay here!” Seán McGilroy thrust the sack of potatoes at her.
Unthinking, she took them, and he was off like a shot, rushing down the lane.
“Is that likely?” Joan put them down and hid the spade among the bushes, not wanting to tempt anyone into taking it. Then, snatching up the skirts of her raggedy brown Cinderella dress, she took off after him.
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