The Black Velvet Gown PDF/EPUB · The Black MOBI

The Black Velvet Gown There would be times when Riah Millican came to regret that her husband had learned to read and write and then shared his knowledge with her and their children  For this was Durham in the 1830's when employers tended to regard the spread of education with suspicion  But now Seth Millican was dead and she was a widow with the need to find a home and a living for herself and her childrenThe chance of becoming a housekeeper didn't work out but it led to Moor House and a scholarly recluse obsessed with that very book learning that could open so many doors and yet create so many problems; especially with her daughter Biddy who was not only bright but witfulTHE BLACK VELVET GOWN is the story of a mother and daughter often at odds with each other facing the need to challenge and fight the prejudice of an age a narrative of great power and diversity that is one of Catherine Cookson's major achievements I love this book and have read it at least 5 timesI love the last line it just showed you that people should be careful before they do a kindnessjust got done reading it again 7915 I grew up thinking that Catherine Cookson was sort of a lightweight romance author and thus I never really bothered with her Imagine my surprise when I picked up The Black Velvet Gown and found it to be intricate than I expected and written in an intelligent sometimes stark fashion Riah is a young 1830s widow who finds that the fact she's been taught to read and write is of a hindrance than a help Her children encounter the same prejudices Her daughter Biddy especially finds life uite difficult for a smart girl Having a mind of one's own is not to be desired in the world of 19th century service Through a series of fortuitous circumstances Riah ends up as a housekeeper for an educated recluse and from this point a ball starts rolling that involves her children and everyone she loves Whenever I thought I had a bead on how the story was going to go it surprised me and the twists were far clever than I expected them to be I am thrilled with Ms Cookson for not taking the easy way out in her narrative it made for a much entertaining read from my perspective and taught me a very important lesson regarding dismissing authors out of hand without giving them a try for myself When Riah is given a job at Moor House she feels her prayers are answered She has not only found a home a job her and the Master of the House develop a friendship Mr Miller her employer tells Riah that he wishes to teach her children Riah feels blessed by his seeming kindness but learns that the kindness has a cost and horrifying cost I notice that many people miss a important story arch in this book It relates to the 'Black Velvet Gown' given to Riah by Miller She believes he is to bed her but to her horror discovers that he has a disturbing interest in her eldest son Davey The Black velvet gown was his payment for her son it's so subtly done many miss it but once you realise Miller's motives much of the previous dialogue and odd things he says suddenly become alarmingly clear The revelation comes to light when Davey's reward for being a 'good pupil'grooming him for his silence isn't presented and begins to paw at the frightened boy who realises that the man's affection is anything but Fatherly The sudden realisation of what had happened during his 'lessons' causes a mental break and begins to attack his abuser Riah tells Miller that she is going to take the children away from him He blackmails her by saying that he'll tell the Police of Davey's attack on him In those times position and wealth helped nefarious creatures get away with all kinds of terrors Poor Riah is trapped with having to look after the injured Miler Davey leaves home and finds work safely away from Moor House She keeps her youngest sons away by keeping a watchful eye Since Riah's daughter is blissfully unaware of the sorrowful events and sees Miller as a fatherly figure a mentor Her naivety makes her assume that Davey is nothing but a thug and a lout This is another sick act Miller inflicts on the innocent family By tearing a Mother and daughter apart Riah's need to protect her daughter Biddy from the horrors of the housedrives a wedge between the pair All biddy sees though her innocent eyes is that her mentor was attacked by her angry brother and that her mother fathers Davey above her The sad truth being that Riah just wants to protect Biddy from the heartbreak on discovering that her father figure is a child abuser Biddy grows up and becomes a accomplished heard working young woman With her mentor who taught her French and Latin now dead she leaves home to become a laundry servant in a grand Manor Her kindness intelligence draw much attention much negative die to it being considered vulgar for the lower classes to develop airs and education She teaches several of the other maids how to read and write Davey also works at the Manor as a 'Stable lad' In contrast to Davey who hides his education to fit in Biddy defiantly flaunts it This leads to a dreadful attack by two of the houses young Lady and Master who string her up and beat her She is thankfully rescued by Lawrence who has also noticed Biddy but in a positive way Definitely one of Cookson's strongest literary pieces This gripping read features focuses on the difficulty in being a 'educated working class' Cookson was often given the label of a 'Romance writer' A term she detested due to its condescension and the fact she saw her work as 'Historical fiction' I'd agree in the case of this book Although Biddy finds romance within her story arch the stark and thoughtful style gives this novel this some depth I absolutely loved this book and I really didn't expect to Based on the cover and various descriptions of it and its author I really expected another shallow crappy 'historical fiction' really a romance in pseudo intellectual clothes This to my mind was nothing of the sort No nothing sweeping or epic happens none of the characters change the world But they do change their worlds and that alone was enjoyable enough to read It really gave you a sense of the conditions of the time periodThe real draw for me was the characters though I loved how deeply drawn they were no major characters here are one dimensional The jerks had softer gentler sides the kind ones had mean streaks and were capable of resentment and bitterness People like the wrong people and dismiss the good ones mistakenly they make mistakes Biddy the arguable main character gets herself into trouble because she's got a temper and doesn't hold her tongue when that temper is high Mr Miller is deeply deeply complex and I went through different shades with him By the end of the book I still wasn't uite sure what to make of him They felt like real people with real struggles and for that I adore this bookNo earth shattering plots or anything like that here but if you want a genuine human drama this is for you I highly recommend it

  • Paperback
  • 475 pages
  • The Black Velvet Gown
  • Catherine Cookson
  • English
  • 23 January 2016
  • 9780552124737

About the Author: Catherine Cookson

Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock the illegitimate daughter of a poverty stricken woman Kate who Catherine believed was her older sister Catherine began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings where she met and married Tom Cookson a local grammar school master Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby

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