11 May 2015

The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester

Hey everyone,

Oh. My. God. Im not reviewing a romance book today?! Can it be true? Yes, yes it can! The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester is a historical fiction novel focused around the suffragette movement that gained momentum in the early 1900s. Thrown in with all the political intrigue, and the fight for women’s rights is a good old fashioned mystery!

The book:

1912 and London is in turmoil…

The suffragette movement is reaching fever pitch but for broke Fleet Street tomboy Frankie George, just getting by in the cut-throat world of newspapers is hard enough. Sent to interview trapeze artist Ebony Diamond, Frankie finds herself fascinated by the tightly laced acrobat and follows her across London to a Mayfair corset shop that hides more than one dark secret.

Then Ebony Diamond mysteriously disappears in the middle of a performance, and Frankie is drawn into a world of tricks, society columnists, corset fetishists, suffragettes and circus freaks. How did Ebony vanish, who was she afraid of, and what goes on behind the doors of the mysterious Hourglass Factory? 

From the newsrooms of Fleet Street to the drawing rooms of high society, the missing Ebony Diamond leads Frankie to the trail of a murderous villain with a plot more deadly than anyone could have imagined…

My thoughts:

Due the mysterious nature of this book I will endeavour to keep my review spoiler free because part of the joy of The Hourglass Factory are all the twists and turns in the plot. I loved the way we, the readers, discover what was really happening to Ebony Diamond alongside Frankie and her band of misfits.

Since study the suffragette movement (do you capitalise suffragette?!) at school I already had an interest in the period, yet reading Lucy Ribchester’s book brought the movement to life. Following Frankie around London while she investigated the disappearance and possible death of Ebony Diamond.

“It was like walking into the gilded stomach of a goddess. The lobby, with velvet and chandeliers, palms, frenzies of stucco sprawled across the ceiling, swallowed everyone who entered her. There were confectionary stall for sweets and a row of box office kiosks worked by men in bell-hop uniforms, gold thread on red cotton and hats to match”.

Alongside the political riots, criminal intrigue and commentary on women’s rights, The Hourglass Factory is full of beautiful descriptive writing. Both from Frankie and Inspector Primrose who has recently been assigned to the suffragette division. The contrast between Frankie’s experience and knowledge of the suffragette compared to Primrose’s provided an interesting contrast. The changes  in perspective kept me engaged in the plot, as it allowed the momentum to move forward. Also despite this book being a piece of fiction I was fascinated by how the suffragette’s were treated by the police in this book. Both while they are being investigated and also during their various imprisonments. I’d love to know how historically accurate some of these scenes where!

“Primrose stood back. He wished to turn aside but a compelling terror congealed with professional pride and morbid curiosity made him press his back against the chalky wall and keep his eyes on Reynolds”.

I loved reading about Primrose’s conflict over his new job; his struggle to view the suffragette’s as insane criminals like the rest of the police force. Ultimately Primrose is one of the few police men still managing to investigate crimes rather than automatically blaming the suffragette’s. Another one of my favourite characters was Milly. Her mysterious past was fascinating and by the end of the book I still had questions remaining about her. In my opinion she was more free and independent than either Frankie or Ebony, but of course that is just a personal opinion!

Overall I really enjoyed reading The Hourglass Factory, although I have to admit at times I did have to stop reading just to digest what was happening.

My rating:
Happy reading everyone and see you next time!