THE SEWING ROOM GIRL

 

1892. When her beloved father dies, 15-year-old Juliet Harper and her mother, the difficult but vulnerable Agnes, are left to fend for themselves. So when Agnes finds a job as a seamstress in the Drydales' ancestral home on the Lancashire moors and the pair start their work, things appear to be looking up. But with their new life comes new challenges, and just as Juliet begins to find her feet, Agnes falls ill, leaving her daughter defenceless and alone.

 

Without her mother to protect her, Juliet finds herself the victim of a traumatic incident and is left to face an impossible dilemma. In her vulnerable position and with the life she worked so hard to build hanging in the balance, she flees to Manchester seeking support from her estranged family. She comes up against her formidable grandmother, the ruthless businesswoman Adeline Tewson, who is determined to bend Juliet to her will and harness her natural talent as a designer.

 

It will take all Juliet's ingenuity to stand up to Adeline and set up her own dressmaking business. But someone is out to destroy her. Is it Adeline... or could it be an old enemy from the past?

 

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To read the opening pages of The Sewing Room Girl, click here.

 

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More about The Sewing Room Girl

 

Would you belive me if I told you that Cecily was never meant to appear in the story except as a walk-on part in the early chapters? Here is a short piece about the rise and rise of Cecily.

 

Where do writers get their ideas? Here is a piece that includes the original spark of an idea that grew into The Sewing Room Girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK hardback         (8 Nov 2018)

 

UK Kindle              (22 Nov 2018)

 

UK paperback       (23 May 2019)

 

US hardback         (2 Feb 2019)

 

US Kindle              (22 Nov 2018)

 

US paperback       (23 May 2019)

 

Canada Kindle      (22 Nov 2018)

 

Australia Kindle     (22 Nov 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the beautiful cover for the audio version of The Sewing Room Girl, read by Julia Franklin.

 

 

It is available on Amazon and also from the publisher, Isis Soundings.

 

 

Places in The Sewing Room Girl

 

Market Street in Manchester

 

 

This is Market Street, where Juliet finds work, designing costumes for Ingleby's to make for their middle-class clientele.

 

Here is her first visit there, when she has made the momentous decision to prepare some dress designs to send them in the hope of impressing the legendary Miss Lindsay.

 

Two interminable days crawled by before she could rush to Market Street in the city centre. Although she was used to the crowded environment now, the sight of the line of smart shops on either of the long road was bewildering, but she soon found Ingleby’s, a spacious shop spread over three floors, selling everything a needleworker could possibly want.

 

She examined fabrics, making notes on colour, texture, weight and width; she used a few precious coins to purchase samples of ribbon, braid, piping and lace trim. She drew a selection of buttons, then went into Ladies' Accessories to make more notes. She already had one costume pretty well complete inside her head. Before she left the shop, she bought some off-cuts so she could start work on new samples.

 

 

St Ann's Square

 

 

This is St Ann's Square, off which, in Caroline Street, is Mademoiselle Antoinette's exclusive dressmaking salon, where Juliet goes to find her aunt Clara.

 

 

St Ann’s Square housed handsome buildings several storeys high, all of which seemed to have a shop on the ground floor. What all those upper floors were for, she couldn’t imagine. In Birkfield, shopkeepers lived above their shops, but perhaps that was something that happened only in the provinces. Hansom cabs were lined up along one side, ready for customers, and over there was St Ann’s church, in front of which was a statue of a man, but she didn’t get to see his name because she came to Caroline Street.

 

It was a blind alley with three shops on either side and another at the end, each with a diamond-paned bow window. Above the middle window on the right-hand side was a green-and-cream striped awning with a scalloped edge, an ornamental touch that didn’t conceal the name of the shop, which was painted in elegant script above the window: Mademoiselle Antoinette.

In the bow window stood three pictures on small easels, each a detailed drawing of a lady in a fashionable costume. Behind was a green-and-cream panel, so Juliet couldn’t see into the shop. She didn’t want to go in if there were customers. Should she have written after all? But she hadn’t wanted to give Auntie Clara the opportunity to say no.

 

She peered through the glass panel in the door. A smartly-dressed woman was seated at an elegant table, her head bent over something she was writing. There weren’t any customers. She pushed open the door, automatically listening for the bell to tinkle overhead, but there was no sound – except for a sharp intake of breath across the room.

 

‘Good afternoon,’ she said. ‘Please may I see Mademoiselle Antoinette?’

‘How dare you enter this establishment?’ The woman came to her feet. ‘Depart this instant!’

Juliet felt panicky. The woman swept towards her.

‘Please – I must see Mademoiselle Antoinette.’

'The presumption,' snorted the woman. She grasped Juliet by the arm.

Her head felt odd and swirly. ‘You don’t understand. Mademoiselle Antoinette – Miss Clara Tewson – I’m her niece.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

And then –

 

 

REVIEWS OF THE SEWING ROOM GIRL

 

After the Rain Comes the Sunshine

If Susanna Bavin ever needs an alternative career, I think she should consider being a hypnotist. I’m sure she must have had some training already because the minute I see one of her books, it’s impossible to look away... The Sewing Room Girl is a powerfully written story, full of twists and turns, heartbreak and smiles, that will stay with me for a long time...Every single character pulls their weight. As usual, Susanna’s villains are enough to make me shiver... Also, I think plucky, courageous Juliet might just be my favourite of Susanna’s leading ladies (and I don’t say that lightly)...The time period (1890s) and location seem meticulously researched. Susanna has the perfect touch when it comes to weaving in interesting little titbits of the time without making it seem like a history lesson.  Her wonderfully warm writing style lured me deeper and deeper into the tale until I felt like I was there living it with them. 

 

 

Waggy Tales Blog

This is the first book I have read by Susanna Bavin and Oh My Goodness... it won’t be the last! I adored this fast-paced and meticulously researched historical saga... The characters in this book just captivated me... and the class divide comes through strongly... Expect to experience every emotion with this warm, moving, sometimes heartbreaking page-turner.

 

 

Books and Me 

This is the 3rd book from Susanna Bavin, and my 1st read of one of hers and I’m now excited to go back and read her other titles as I found this to be captivating, heartbreaking and such a wonderful read following the story of Juliet.

 

 

Northern Reader

This well researched and brilliantly plotted novel... is a powerful testament to the courage of a young woman when everything is against her. In today’s society when we are aware of how the abuse of women can affect their lives, this book can be painful reading as brutal acts against teenage girls are tacitly accepted, whatever the results. The odds which are stacked against the characters and the ways they must employ to survive are well handled and the ending more than satisfactory. This novel reflects well the research and feeling for the period that the author has unquestionably developed, and as historical fiction writing it is an effective piece of social history in very dramatic form. I recommend this book for fans of sagas in which women must fight to survive, and who enjoy realistic writing.

 

 

Bookish Jottings

The Sewing Room Girl is a compulsively readable saga of courage, sacrifice and redemption that is sure to go down a treat with fans of Anna Jacobs and Dilly Court.... saga writing at its finest. Susanna Bavin is a fantastic storyteller who has imbued her narrative with heart-wrenching pathos and searing emotional drama and written a gritty and gutsy saga that is rich in period detail, brilliantly evocative and immensely compelling. The pages just turn themselves when readers start reading... and they will find themselves completely and utterly entranced by this well-written and skillfully told tale of family conflict, the ties that bind and never surrendering, that will tug at the heartstrings and keep readers enthralled from beginning to end... A first class saga written by a writer who is set to become a star in her field, Susanna Bavin’s The Sewing Room Girl should not be missed.

 

 

Jera's Jamboree

I struggled to put this book down because it was so good!... compelling and heart wrenching… a fabulous page-turner! Susanna Bavin has created such a world full of comparisons between poverty and wealth but with the similarities associated with prejudice and contempt to those deemed in trouble... Susanna Bavin questions society’s discrimination towards Juliet mainly led my men and lends the reader an instant dislike for the chauvinist approach... I would heartily recommend this feeling and inspiring book.