Maid of Steel by Kate Baker

It’s a pleasure to join the blog tour for Maid of Steel by Kate Baker today by sharing my review. My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

Maid of Steel was published by The Book Guild on 28th February 2023 and is available for purchase directly from the publisher here, Waterstones, Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Maid Of Steel

It’s 1911 and, against her mother’s wishes, quiet New Yorker Emma dreams of winning the right to vote. She is sent away by her parents in the hope distance will curb her desire to be involved with the growing suffrage movement and told to spend time learning about where her grandparents came from.

Across the Atlantic – Queenstown, southern Ireland – hotelier Thomas dreams of being loved, even noticed, by his actress wife, Alice. On their wedding day, Alice’s father had assured him that adoration comes with time. It’s been eight years. But Alice has plans of her own and they certainly don’t include the fight for equality or her dull husband.

Emma’s arrival in Ireland leads her to discover family secrets and become involved in the Irish Women’s Suffrage Society in Cork. However, Emma’s path to suffrage was never meant to lead to a forbidden love affair…

My Review of Maid of Steel

Emma’s life is about to change.

Maid of Steel opens with exciting drama that I wasn’t expecting, but that drew me in to the narrative instantly and set the tone for Emma’s personality that was developed through the rest of the story. I felt compelled to read on. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the plot of Maid of Steel. Firstly it has obviously been assiduously researched so that it is convincing and transports the reader to 1911 with clarity and authority. Kate Baker blends the real events of the era with a fictionalised story that is entertaining and captivating. I had no previous idea about the soldiers’ homes for example. This educational element to Maid of Steel gave it depth and gravitas.

Secondly, Maid of Steel has an entertaining, brisk, episodic plot too that would make it ideal for adaptation to a television series. I could also envision it as a hugely successful west end play in the style of Les Miserables

I found the characterisation engendered strong reactions in me as a reader. Emma is by no means perfect. She can be foolhardy and reckless in behaviour, but I found I admired her totally. In contrast, I loathed Alice until towards the end of Maid of Steel when I discovered more about her. It was Thomas whom I found most fascinating though because I couldn’t decide how I felt about him. At times he seems weak, almost insipid and I despised him, and then in contrast he is seen to have self-control and moral integrity despite strong feelings and passions so that he is quite admirable even if mercurial. This made him really interesting to consider. Alongside the main characters, the more minor ones are equally realistic and interesting.

Dramatic, pacy story and great characterisation aside, however, I think it’s the sense of society, and specifically social injustice, that hooked me in so entirely. Women’s suffrage, Home Rule, the impact of church, state and societal expectation, sexuality and class all combine into a rich tapestry of fascination, making Maid of Steel a great read. 

I was impressed by Maid of Steel because it is highly entertaining. It’s packed with historical detail. It’s dramatic and it gives a credible sense of history through interesting characters. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. 

About Kate Baker

Kate Baker wrote terrible holiday diaries as a child, which her husband regularly asks her to read out loud for their entertainment. She has since improved and has written with intent since 2018. Maid of Steel is her second novel; the first is lining drawers in the vegetable rack at their farmhouse.

For further information visit Kate’s website, follow Kate on Twitter @katefbaker or find her on Instagram. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

3 thoughts on “Maid of Steel by Kate Baker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.