As the daughter of a narrowboat man, Beth Dawson has grown up on the network of canals that criss-crosses England. In the years that follow the First World War, the jobs of the boatmen are threatened by the expansion of roads and railways. Discontent simmers, and the workers' union - led by Anthony Wesley - is stirring up trouble. When Beth witnesses Anthony being beaten up in a dark alley by a group of men, she runs to fetch help. She sees the dark figure of Harry Allen lingering in the shadows, leading the vicious gang's attack, and soon finds herself caught up in events that spiral out of control.
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Jeannie Johnson is the author of six previous historical sagas, including the popular 'Sugar' trilogy. Born in Bristol, she grew up on a deprived housing estate, and now combines writing with a career as a television actress.From Booklist:
Beth has grown up on the English canals under brutally impoverished conditions that have worsened since the First World War and the increasing use of trains and trucks that threatens her family's livelihood. Two very different men become infatuated with Beth because of her good looks and her ability to read. Harry, representing low-level management, feels entitled to rape Beth, believing she wants him. Anthony, a union agitator, is trying to organize the workers Beth has rescued after a beating by company goons. Beth ends up marrying a fellow boatman while trying to avoid Harry and yearning for Anthony as the labor movement and Beth's life collide. Johnson's love story, set against the backdrop of England's labor movement between the world wars, focuses on the hand-to-mouth existence of itinerant workers and the toll on families struggling against a lack of education or any opportunity for improvement. Patty Engelmann
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