‘I’m fascinated by the world that you depict here, that of a rural nineteenth century character whose family has been buffeted by wider historical forces…the most impressive feat here is the musicality and lyricism of your language; which makes this a really poetic read.’ Andrea Stuart ‘Sugar in the Blood’
For more reviews go to ‘Where to buy the Book’
Beatrice Parvin’s debut novel Captain Swing and the Blacksmith, is set in the West Country in the 1840s, a time when the area was in the grip of poverty. It is haunted by memories of the Swing Riots 10 years before, when labourers caused extensive damage in a desperate attempt to increase starvation wages. Sue Trindall, the protagonist, is a character shaped by the trauma of the riots and the devastating effects that the riots had on her community.
Sue, a 17-year-old laundry presser, lives in Amesbury with her alcoholic father, a man known for his talent for persuasion. When Sue’s father is asked by protestors to write threatening notes signed ‘Captain Swing’, his family’s fortunes are changed forever. In order to earn money after her mother’s death, Sue starts selling buttons. One day, after finding a pair of pearl buttons embedded in mud outside the Town Hall, her fortunes start to look up. The attention of an apprentice blacksmith, Jack Straker, promises a brighter future. But when Jack abandons Sue in favour of her wealthy friend Eleanor, and she loses her precious buttons as a result of her father’s actions, Sue leave Amesbury, pregnant and devastated. And thereby begins her fight for survival…
Beatrice’s book takes inspiration from British folk music and tells the story of working class people through the songs that they wrote and sang. The book is accompanied by a collection of traditional and original tracks, performed by talented musicians, including the esteemed folk singer Emmie Ward and singer/songwriter Rebecca Hollweg. One of the accompanying tracks was the final piece of music written by Dave Swarbrick, fiddler and songwriter for Fairport Convention. Captain Swing and the Blacksmith will appeal to fans of historical fiction and those with a local interest in the West Country.
Listen to the music that inspired the book here