I feel as if I’ve known Judith Barrow, author of A Hundred Tiny Threads, for ever as she has been such a supporter of Linda’s Book Bag since I started blogging. I was thrilled to interview Judith about her Pattern trilogy to which A Hundred Tiny Threads is the prequel. You can read that interview here. Consequently I’m delighted that I have finally been able to read one of Judith’s books and be part of the launch clebrations for A Hundred Tiny Threads with my review today.
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 of A Hundred Tiny Threads
Winifred’s unhappy relationship with her mother will be just the start of her troubles.
My goodness what a super read A Hundred Tiny Threads is. There’s a cracking plot that is meticulously researched so that the setting and era are vivid and totally convincing, making reading this book a means to transport yourself into the past. There are so many elements that make A Hundred Tiny Threads not just an entertaining read, but a fascinating insight into social and political history in the early part of the twentieth century. I love it when I learn something new as I read and I certainly did here.
The quality of description is superb. There’s no shying away from the visceral, the violent and the mundane so that A Hundred Tiny Threads is a visual and auditory experience too. From the stench of the slums to the bloodshed of Suffragette demonstrations and the cacophony of the First World War battlefields I could picture everything in my mind’s eye.
Similarly, Judith Barrow’s characters are so well depicted. I found Bill especially complex and rounded. I didn’t much like his belligerent nature but I felt it was totally understandable and realistic. When I wasn’t reading A Hundred Tiny Threads I wondered what the characters were getting up to without me! I think it’s the wonderful direct speech that helps to create such an impression of real people.
I really enjoyed this read and I have to confess it surprised me. I haven’t read Judith Barrow before and was expecting a good book that would hold my attention. A Hundred Tiny Threads was so much better than merely good – it’s excellent. I was totally immersed in the story and sorry when the book ended because I loved the mature exploration of what makes a marriage at the heart of the story, from violence and obsession to love and loyalty. I recommend A Hundred Tiny Threads wholeheartedly. It’s a brilliant book.
About Judith Barrow
Judith Barrow grew up in a small village in Saddleworth, at the foot of the Pennines in North-West England, UK. In 1978 she moved with her husband, David, and their three children to Pembrokeshire in West Wales, where she is a creative writing tutor. Her short stories have been published in several Honno anthologies. Her first novel, Pattern of Shadows, published by Honno, is a wartime saga, set around the first German POW camp in Britain. The sequel, Changing Patterns was published in May 2013. The last of the trilogy is Living in the Shadows. The prequel to the Pattern series, A Hundred Tiny Threads, is now published. Judith also has an eBook, Silent Trauma that is fiction built on fact and based on the drug Diethylstilboestrol, which has caused devastating damage to unborn women.