A reminder of some of the books that I read and enjoyed in 2017 that I can recommend.
This review is for A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow which is the prequel to the Howarth Family Saga
About A Hundred Tiny Threads
It’s 1911 and Winifred Duffy is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother.
The scars of Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood linger. The only light in his life comes from a chance encounter with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife.
Meeting her friend Honora’s silver-tongued brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down. But Honora and Conal disappear, after a suffrage rally turns into a riot, and abandoned Winifred has nowhere to turn but home.
The Great War intervenes, sending Bill abroad to be hardened in a furnace of carnage and loss. When he returns his dream is still of Winifred and the life they might have had… Back in Lancashire, worn down by work and the barbed comments of narrow-minded townsfolk, Winifred faces difficult choices in love and life.
My review for A Hundred Tiny Threads October 2017
A brilliant prequel to the Howarth family saga.
I read and reviewed the three books in the Howarth Family Saga series and was delighted to discover that Judith Barrow was going to release a prequel to the series. We meet Winifred Duffy and Bill Howarth well into middle-age in the trilogy, and it is wonderful to find out how they began life, and the experiences that formed their characters.
Winifred Duffy finds it difficult to bond with her rigidly unloving mother despite the best efforts of her father. Their grocery shop is a focal point in the street and being under the watchful eye of the neighbours makes their strained relationship worse. It is a time when the Suffragette movement is gathering pace, and much against her mother’s wishes, Winifred becomes involved. Her new friends are vibrant and colourful. They are completely different to anyone that she has known before and they draw her into a dangerous liaison. Winifred has to develop the strength to overcome the consequences of these relationships if she is to continue to live within the narrow minded community around her.
Bill Howarth is a young man whose early life and time in the mines has marred him, leaving scars that make him unpredictable and angry. But Winifred catches his eye and ignites a love that is both powerful and destructive. Bill enlists to fight in the First World War and his experiences of the horror drives any compassion he might have had, deeper beneath his anger. This is reinforced with his service as part of the Black and Tans regiment in Ireland leaving him with few options if he is to find redemption.
Judith Barrow has created two very different characters that cross paths on a number of occasions, sometimes without being aware of each other’s existence. It is very difficult to like Bill Howarth, and it takes a skilled writer to instil some compassion and understanding for the young man he becomes. Winifred is much easier to admire, as she faces and overcomes some life-changing events, and comes to terms with secrets from the past.
The pace of the story is excellent, with several other wonderfully drawn characters such as Honara and her brother Conal, and the completely unlikeable Ethel Duffy. The history of the suffragette movement and the Irish conflict are very well portrayed, forming a compelling backdrop to the story of two young people being drawn into events, often beyond their control.
I recommend that if you have not already read the three books in the trilogy, that you begin with A Hundred Tiny Threads. This will offer you a wonderful introduction to the Howarth family that you will next meet during the Second World War. Also, having become familiar with the locations in this prequel, you will feel immediately at home when you encounter them in the first of the books, Pattern of Shadows.
Also by Judith Barrow
About Judith Barrow
Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years.
She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions..
She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.
Thanks for dropping in and I hope you will be leaving with some books — Sally.