Monday, 19 January 2015

The Hourglass Factory

The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester
Published by Simon & Schuster
Paperback Edition
15th January 2015

1912 and London is in turmoil...

The suffragette movement is reaching fever pitch but for broke Fleet Street tomboy Frankie George, just getting by in the cut-throat world of newspapers is hard enough. Sent to interview trapeze artist Ebony Diamond, Frankie finds herself fascinated by the tightly laced acrobat and follows her across London to a Mayfair corset shop that hides more than one dark secret.

Then Ebony Diamond mysteriously disappears in the middle of a performance, and Frankie is drawn into a world of tricks, society columnists, corset fetishists, suffragettes and circus freaks. How did Ebony vanish, who was she afraid of, and what goes on behind the doors of the mysterious Hourglass Factory?

From the newsrooms of Fleet Street to the drawing rooms of high society, the missing Ebony Diamond leads Frankie to the trail of a murderous villain with a plot more deadly than anyone could have imagined...


Lucy Ribchester's debut novel is a fantastic combination of circus and politics.  Set in 1912 at the time of the sinking of the Titanic, Ebony Diamond, suffragette and trapeze artist, is trying to use her work to help in the cause for votes for women.  Meanwhile, reporter Frankie George has been sent to interview the flamboyant performer.  However Ebony soon disappears after agreeing to meet Frankie, and this peaks Frankie's interest, especially as a young woman, wearing the circus performers clothes is found murdered in the London street.

Can there be a link to Ebony Diamond's disappearance, and this woman's death?  Frankie seems to think so, and using her investigative skills, sets off to see if she can find out more.  The police though have their hands full, with Mrs Pankhurst and her WSPU members causing mayhem and damage on the streets; they certainly don't have time to be interested in a missing showgirl, or in the death of another young woman.

I really enjoyed this book.  I'm fascinated by the suffragette movement anyway, and Lucy Ribchester has clearly done her research.  Her description of force-feeding in prison was stomach-churningly accurate, and I really did feel that she captured the growing emotions and frustrations felt by the women, and men, concerned throughout the book.  In fact she kept the story going right to the very last sentence, without letting the tension drop at all.  This would make a fantastic film, as it is very dramatic and visual.  A brilliant read that I would wholly recommend to start the year with.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

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